In a one room church off the beaten path a congregation has come together, some young and some old. Paper fans are used instead of air conditioning or any type of modern-day relief from the summer heat. If you have heard of the purge of sin, this place is ideal for anyone entering to extract any perceived or unrecognized faults merely through the temperature in the building. The tall windows are open and the hymns can be heard for a good distance in the quiet of the country side.
An energetic preacher tells stories and creates laughter from a lifetime of experiences. He begins to tell a story of Jewish Civilians who were forced to carry the Roman Soldiers baggage, mainly containing armor for one mile. The weight could range from eighty to over a hundred pounds. I’m not sure about you, but under even ideal conditions outside I have trouble some days carrying my body weight around let alone carrying what equals to a ten-year-old boy around as well.
In Matthew 5 verse 41, Jesus is thought to have used this illustration to describe relationships with others. The verse states, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” The preacher describes our life today and how it is easy for us to do the minimal required, but when people see us not only carrying the baggage for one mile but two, they will notice the love of Christ in us. They will be drawn to find out more about the reasoning behind these nonessential signs of kindness.
Several years ago, I walked out of the doors of this cozy country church dripping in sweat having listened to some of the same songs with tears in my eyes and listened to the same speaker who brought clarity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. A middle-aged couple followed me and my family out into the shaded courtyard of the church with a pad and pencil in hand.The man took my shoulder and pulled me to the side as his wife did the same with my wife and kids. Even though we were fairly new to this venue, they seemed to be genuine in their request for any of our prayer needs. It was as if I had known him for years as I poured out my heart, mainly about how my marriage seemed to be falling apart no matter how hard I tried to make things work. He started writing on his piece of paper and before we left, he wrote down my phone number and said a quick prayer before we departed.
I’ve seen situations like this before. People seem to be sincere immediately and even a few days following, but within a few weeks they seem to have forgotten how desperate you were for their prayers to start with. But something was different. Week after week normally multiple times throughout the week a message would pop up concerning mine and my families’ well-being. While this was flattering, on the home front things seemed to be getting worse.
Never a negative thought came about during those conversations. Encouragement to stay the course and no matter how hard it may get to continue to pray and court my wife as if we had just started dating. Little did I know at the time that this man’s wife had been engaged in conversations with my bride at the same time. I can imagine this couple begging God to help this broken couple in a desperate time of need for their family.
“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” A shining example of going the extra mile for someone that they barely knew has gone a long way. Ultimately their show of affection through their love for Jesus Christ has drawn us closer to each other and in our relationship with or Savior.
What will you do today to carry someone else’s baggage the extra mile?