As we continue our tradition of the five kernels of corn, the fourth one reminds us to love and help one another. In today’s day and age, it is often the most difficult thing to do. Instead of getting to know our neighbors, we have opted to spend our time behind computer monitors and chat with one another. It seems like the day of meeting new people at a coffee shop, local diner or courthouse bench has gone the way of the dodo bird and the bench seat in cars.
As I was growing up in a small town in Texas, every Wednesday the local newspaper went on sale at three o’clock. People would arrive early to sit and talk. Some would go to the local drug store for a cup of coffee and meet with friends and neighbors. When the paper finally came out, people walked up to the counter and put a dime into a small cardboard box and took a copy. People would sit back down on benches around the courthouse square and just read articles to each other or continue conversations.
Life, back then, was simple and very easy-going. Neighbors were there to help you when you needed it most. Everyone shared with each other and would invite others to dinner or a barbecue. Churches had wonderful potlucks and all were invited to come together in fellowship and worship of the Father.
Yes, my friends, life was a lot simpler and easier. We could all slow down and enjoy life knowing that others were there to lend a hand when you needed it the most. Maybe my memories are a bit nostalgic and colored a bit, but those memories, if embellished, are very close to the truth and the reality I experienced. We truly loved our friends and our neighbors.
Jesus tells us the same thing. We are to love one another no matter what. We are to show one another compassion and be there through thick or thin. Love shouldn’t come with exceptions and fine print that would prevent us from doing what is right and proper for all of us.
When Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, he gave them one more commandment to live by. In chapter thirteen of John’s gospel, Jesus tells them, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
When we show the world the love we have for others, we live in accordance with Jesus' one last commandment. By loving one another, we are telling the world that we are his disciples and that we live our lives in accordance with Jesus' example and life. We should not isolate ourselves from each other. We are bound together by one immutable truth. We were all created in the image of God and given a soul when He breathed into us.
We share so much as a species and we are so capable of loving one another. I have seen people, who were once strangers, come together to share and to help others in times of joy and also in tragedy. We are capable of lifting up individuals in prayer and in love.
I have personally seen people in cancer treatment centers share blankets and offer to get a complete stranger food or a magazine. Our hearts are so full of love, but, for some reason, we withhold it and we don’t share it with others. It is easy to love someone you know, but quite a different thing to love a stranger, but Jesus tells us to love all.
In chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”
It is so easy to do so much for a family member, friend or neighbor, but quite a different thing when it comes to our enemies. But, Jesus tells us to look beyond our impressions and how we are treated. We are to always show love to all no matter what.
When Jesus was asked by the religious leaders about the greatest commandment, he, in chapter twenty-two of Matthew’s gospel, said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When you think about it, the Bible teaches the most important laws of loving God and loving one another. The Bible has many lessons in it, but love is the most important. We are to love God totally and completely. But, we are to also love one another and treat others the same way we desire to be treated. We are to always show our love to the world. It is the greatest way of giving our story of how a Savior came from glory to die upon a cross for those who walked in darkness and now walk in the newness of life.
So, as you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, remember the lesson of the fourth kernel of corn and show the world the love in your heart, mind and soul for the Father and the love you have for those around you be they family, friend, neighbor or enemy. When you do that, you not only reflect God’s love into a world of darkness, but you are also able to stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.