A Guy Named Bill:
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).
When I was the youth pastor at Bible Fellowship Church in Surrey, BC, the motto in our youth ministry was, “If you come around here, we’re going to love you – unconditionally, always, and under every circumstance.” As Christians, we have been called to love one another, to accept one another, and to forgive one another, to be kind-hearted, and to bear one another’s burdens. I want to share a story with you today that will hopefully challenge you (as it did me) to evaluate the way you accept other people.
His name was Bill. He had wild hair, wore a T-shirt with holes in it, blue jeans and no shoes. In the entire time I knew him I never once saw Bill wear a pair of shoes. Rain, sleet or snow, Bill was barefoot. This was literally his wardrobe for his whole four years of college.
He was brilliant and looked like he was always pondering the esoteric. He became a Christian while attending college. Across the street from the campus was a church full of well-dressed, middle-class people. They wanted to develop a ministry to the college students, but they were not sure how to go about it.
One day, Bill decided to worship there. He walked into the church, complete with his wild hair, T-shirt, blue jeans and bare feet. The church was completely packed, and the service had already begun. Bill started down the aisle to find a place to sit. By now the people were looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything.
As Bill moved closer and closer to the pulpit, he realized there were no empty seats. So he squatted and sat down on the carpet right up front. (Although such behaviour would have been perfectly acceptable at the college fellowship, this was a scenario this particular congregation had never witnessed before!) By now, the people seemed uptight, and the tension in the air was thickening.
Right about the time Bill took his “seat,” a deacon began slowly making his way down the aisle from the back of the sanctuary. The deacon was in his eighties, had silver gray hair, a three-piece suit and a pocket watch. He was a godly man — very elegant, dignified and courtly. He walked with a cane and, as he neared the boy, church members thought, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and background to understand some college kid on the floor?”
It took a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church was utterly silent except for the clicking of his cane. You couldn’t even hear anyone breathing. All eyes were on the deacon.
But then they saw the elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty, he sat down on the floor next to Bill and worshipped with him. Everyone in the congregation choked up with emotion. When the minister gained control, he told the people, “What I am about to preach, you will never remember. What you’ve just seen, you will never forget.” (Rebecca Manley Pippert from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul).
Today, I want to simply challenge you to be an ambassador of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember His words to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).
Pastor Chris Jordan