But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13
In Thessalonians, Paul reminds us that in the body of Christ we are to encourage and build each other up. We all have a mission to heal a broken world, each in our own special way. Billy Watkins was the type of church member that every minister wants more of. No matter what needed to be done, Billy was the first there to help. He fixed things before anyone knew they were broken. Food was in the home before anybody knew somebody was hungry or sick. As a union man, he was first on the strike line advocating for workers.
At Billy’s funeral, the minister said, “He was always in church on Sunday. Sitting there in the same corner, sleeping.” The congregation laughed as the minister went on to tell everybody that he had every right to sleep, for Billy was up before everybody else doing the faithful witness of God’s love for those who needed to be reminded of God’s love.
As we come closer to the cross, we are reminded today that it is not those who are first, at the head of the table or have the most who will be applauded, but those who always serve the other and do not seek prestige or position for themselves. It is the one who loved the child, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and healed the sick. The community of God’s beloved people is comprised of those who are at peace with all of God’s beloved and reach out to heal all, even those we call a stranger or an enemy.
Lord God, in this time of Lent, let us meditate on how God is calling each of us in our own special way to love everyone, even our enemies. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.