Have you ever had the following experience? You start talking with someone. It may be a complete stranger at the mall or in a restaurant. It could be your insurance agent or your professor. As you converse, you find out that they, too, follow Christ. As you talk further you realize that they– just like you– are passionate about their faith. Immediately you feel this amazing bond that is beyond any human comprehension. It is quite different than finding someone who comes from the same city or does the same job. It is an awareness that you are related in the Lord. It is a wonderful experience.
I remember this happening twenty years ago. My husband and I were going to one of those special all-inclusive honeymoon places in The Poconos (anyone else remember those? The Poconos was the place to go before the Caribbean became the place to go). We were celebrating our 5th anniversary and by that time had a couple of kids. We were excited to spend a weekend alone.
When we arrived, we found out that we had to share a table with another couple at our meals. We were a bit hesitant as we headed to the resort’s restaurant. Who would we be seated with? A loud, obnoxious couple who loved to drink? A quiet couple who made it difficult to converse? An old couple? A young couple? We were anticipating complete awkwardness (keep in mind that we were really just kids at the time and especially hated to be put out of our comfort zone).
Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the dining room and were seated with a police officer and his wife from Brooklyn, NY. We quickly surmised from their accents that they had probably been born outside America and found out a few minutes into our dinner that they had immigrated from Nigeria. That certainly gave us something to talk about. We were relieved. Our dinner partners were pleasant enough and we knew we would be fine.
But as we chatted with them, we eventually realized that we were related in the Lord. And, after that, all our supposed differences fell away. As other couples drank and danced the night away, we stayed at the table, talking about raising kids, church, and life in light of our common faith. We talked about the difference between Nigeria and Brooklyn. I especially remember his conversation about Nigerian jails. FYI: You really want to avoid going to a Nigerian jail (and it was his opinion that American jails should be a little more like them!) We talked about our cultures and homes. But all of our conversation was infused with the knowledge that, although we had different skin colors and came from completely different countries and backgrounds, we were one in Christ.
And the knowledge of that was so sweet.
You see, when we meet a fellow brother or sister in the Lord it doesn’t really matter what color they are or what background they come from or what they are wearing or how much money they have. It doesn’t even matter if you can speak the same language.
One of my favorite things about mission trips is when we will go to a national church. Hearing the familiar tunes being sung in a different language is a reminder that the bond we have in Christ is strong and very special. It reminds me of the old hymn–
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
I didn’t really understand the words in this song when I was younger, but life has taught me about this Christian love that binds our hearts. Twenty years have passed since that time together around a table at a honeymoon resort in the mountains of Pennsylvania and yet I still clearly remember it. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and all four of us mused at how God had arranged for us to sit at the same table.
For true Christian love is a tie that binds us to our Christian brothers and sisters. And I thank the Lord for that.