Recently, I was reading an engagement announcement in this newspaper, primarily due to some familiarity I had with the local family of the bride-to-be.
However, as I read the information about her fiance who is not from this community, I suddenly realized that I knew his family too. In a town about 50 miles from here, his father and I were childhood friends. We attended school together and played on the same Little League baseball team. We’ve had no contact with one another since a class reunion many years ago.
After coming to this realization, I looked again at the picture of the happy couple and could clearly see the resemblance of the groom-to-be to my childhood buddy. The whole situation made me sit back in my chair and marvel at the truth we often describe with the phrase, “it’s a small world.”
I’m grateful that we as believers in Christ can experience that phenomena in an even greater way. It’s not unusual for us to meet strangers only to realize shortly afterwards that we know their Father. More than that, we share the same Heavenly Father. We recognize that we are brothers or sisters in Christ — part of the same closely-connected family.
A group from our church went on a missions trip to Mexico some years ago. When we were at the Texas/Mexico border filling out some paperwork, we struck up a conversation with someone else doing the same thing. As we talked, we soon discovered to our mutual amazement that this other individual knew my sister. We had traveled hundreds of miles away from home only to discover the smallness of the world.
After we arrived at our destination in Mexico, we found ourselves not only among strangers, but people from a different culture – people who didn’t look like us and who spoke another language. But as we met some of the people in the churches where we ministered, we clearly recognized that we knew one another’s Father – that we were members of the family of God.
You could see the resemblance – not in the outward appearance, although there was often a joyful smile which served as an outward indication of that family relationship. But you could see the qualities of Christ and His character shining through the lives of those persons as evidence of their connection to Him.
It’s wonderful to know that no matter where we travel around the world, we can often encounter people who know the same God and serve the same Lord whom we know and serve. That makes us more than acquaintances. It makes us family.
The same holds true in our own community, even as it becomes more diverse. All of us as human beings share certain connections with one another. But we have an even greater bond with our fellow believers in Christ.
We may look differently, follow different traditions, prefer different political parties, have different styles of worship, and a host of other distinctions. But hopefully we can recognize the Spirit of Christ in one another and celebrate the kinship we enjoy.
So while others may choose to focus on the differences which divide us, let’s seek to strengthen the bonds we have with one another as members of the family of God. You may look a little different from me, but I know your Father. We have a connection that we shouldn’t ignore or allow others to disrupt.
If we both resemble Jesus, then we’re family. So let’s support one another and rejoice in the fact that it truly is a small world after all.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.