An interesting report on Christians called the Epistle to Diognetus was written in A.D.180 by an unknown author. He started out by saying, "Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, by speech, nor by customs. They pass their days on Earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the established laws but at the same time surpass the laws by their lives." He lists some peculiarities of their lifestyles and then concludes by stating, "They love all and are persecuted by all. They are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich. They lack all things yet abound in all things. They are abused and give blessing; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor. When they do good they are punished as evildoers; when they are punished they rejoice as those receiving life."
It was a very commendable testimony. What might the world say about Christians today? What makes them stand out? How are they different? What is their mode of operandi? What creed do they follow? I would not have known how to answer these questions 23 years ago. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Ever since I was 6 years old I could not depend on anyone. I was a latchkey kid and there was never anyone there for me so I learned to fend for myself from a very early age. Sometimes "fend" worked and sometimes it didnīt, but I knew not to expect help from anyone, anytime, anywhere. Then one day, while raising a family of my own, I ran smack into the "family of God" and started relearning lifeīs lessons as God demonstrated his unconditional, selfless love through these servants of Christ again and again.
The Apostle Paul said Jesus "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." Especially on the Easter weekend I very much wanted you to be privy to how the family of God functions and at the same time I want to give thanks to God and a great big thanks to each one of them for all their zealous good works as they recently rallied around this very helpless, distraught couple.
Over a month ago, in the middle of the night, I summoned an ambulance for my husband who was in distress from congestive heart failure. He had an extremely severe heart attack complicated by water and blood in his lungs. He remained in critical condition, totally sedated and on life support for the next eight days, after which began another three weeks in Critical Care Units. During this difficult time we both received intensive care from another source, the "body of Christ." Some dear friends stood by me at 3 a.m. Many came and prayed at his bedside keeping an around-the-clock vigil. Our son, Dan, arrived immediately and stayed by my side, even when I slept at the hospital. We would go home just long enough to shower and change clothes and find food cooking in crock pots on the kitchen counter. Complete meals kept arriving the entire time. Phone calls, e-mail and cards arrived stating that an army of believers were praying for us. Some chauffeured me back and forth from the hospital. Others, knowing that we would eventually be air-lifted to Canada helped pack, close down our home and put lawn furniture away. Many held my hand, and all touched my heart.
The tiny air-ambulance allowed only one bag. I returned in the middle of winter with one change of clothes and no car. I could not even go home because it is not winterized. I was pleasantly surprised to find that God had an army waiting there, too. Even though they have nine children and one on the way, two of our precious friends opened up their home to me, gave me my own room and made me as welcome as a dearly beloved parent. They handed me the keys to one of their vehicles and said I could have it anytime to go anywhere for as long as I needed. They would not let me contribute for gas or groceries and literally gave us the shirts of their backs because we came with so few clothes. Then they paid the airfare for Dan to fly back to Jackson- ville after he delivered our car to Canada. Another couple drove our car up to Jacksonville to save him 10 hours of driving. Others sent prepaid calling cards. One sent pajamas and an extra suitcase. One sweet soul sent a money order that was far beyond generous. We were showered with love -- financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
The answers to the above questions are very clear to me. Godīs kids live out the words of the Apostle John from I John 3:16-18 "By this we know love, because He (Jesus) laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this worldīs goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
They do. They demonstrate love, not just talk about it -- a very commendable testimony.
Copyright Donna Martonfi www.psalm40ministries.com