January 11, 2021
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…
Christian speaker Tony Campolo tells of his unexpected visit to a diner at 3:00am one night. As he was eating by himself, two prostitutes sat talking nearby. He overheard one, named Agnes, tell her friend that tomorrow would be her birthday. She related that she had never had a birthday party, not once, in her entire life.
After they left, Tony asked the manager if he knew Agnes or any of her friends. “Oh, sure, Agnes comes in here every night around this time. I know them well.” Tony became intrigued. “Let’s throw Agnes a birthday party tomorrow night! I’ll get all the decorations and a cake. You invite her friends.”
The manager was game and the plans were set. The next night Tony arrived at 2:30am and decorations were joyfully strung about the diner. Friends made sure they were there. And when Agnes walked in she was greeted with a loud and enthusiastic “Happy Birthday, Agnes!” from all who were there.
Agnes was absolutely overwhelmed. She immediately grabbed a chair, sat down, and cried, looking about in shock. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before. No one had ever expressed love for her like this. And when they went to cut the cake, she surprised them by protesting. “No, wait, don’t cut it! I just want to look at it. Please, do you mind, would it be okay if I just took it home so I can look at it? Can I just take it home really quick, right now, and then come back?” Gathering up the cake, Agnes ran out the door.
Everyone in the diner looked around in silence, not really knowing how to react. Then it came to Tony: “Hey, everybody. Let’s pray for Agnes.” So they did. All the prostitutes, the outcasts, the loners, and the manager gathered together with Tony and prayed for Agnes. They prayed for her salvation, for her well-being, and for God’s favor in her life.
Afterward, the manager looked at Tony and said, “You didn’t tell me you were a preacher. What kind of church are you from, anyway?”
Tony looked back. “The kind of church that throws parties for prostitutes at 3:00 in the morning.”
The manager nodded and pondered that for a few moments. Then he replied, “No, you don’t. Because if you did, I’d belong to that church.”
That testimony is a hard standard for virtually any of us to live up to, and this story is not intended to create guilt. But it raises a good question nonetheless: What are we known for in our community? Are we known for that kind of outrageous love and sacrifice? And if we were, who in our community might we unexpectedly be impacting?
Let’s ask God today how we might “stir up love and good works” in each of our own communities, families, and friends!