The Eleventh Commandment
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV
Andrew and Lazetha, a new couple who came to Dinner Church last Wednesday, approached to talk to me. They introduced themselves and immediately asked me to pray for them. I was glad to respond to their request. Dinner Church draws many who come seeking prayers. I knew that what they were seeking also was someone who cared about them, and I wanted to be there for them.
The environment of inner-city neighborhoods lacks concern for others. Perhaps the neighborhood around Westminster Community Center once had many who did care for their neighbors, but with the fear that comes with the rise of drug dealing, prostitution, and gang violence, few do. Loneliness is pandemic among those in poverty.
CCDC seeks to be a place filled with love and acceptance. We have people from all walks of life – people of the working class, the homeless, various sexual orientations, atheists, of various racial, ethnic backgrounds, and a diversity of religious faiths.
Jesus gave us the “Eleventh Commandment.” He called his disciples to do more than follow The Ten Commandments; he called them to love as he loved. He lived a love that stretched beyond all races, a love that encompassed the worst of sinners, a love that embraced the unlovely and unlovable.
Jesus underscored this real love by actually loving the adulteress, the cheating tax collector, the demon-possessed, the outcast, the murderer, the thief, and the diseased. Jesus taught and lived loving even his enemies. This is real love, not sentimental, superficial, or self-serving “love.” He countered shallow views of love and challenged the prevailing standards by declaring “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32 NIV
Even sinners, Jesus says, are capable of love. But it’s a love with limitations. It excludes people we don’t like and overlooks people we don’t want to care about.
Cletus is someone we have sought to love but has resisted our attempts to get to know him. For a couple of years, he wouldn’t even give us his name. Finally, he recently gave a name but we’re not sure it’s his real name. He tells us he is an atheist and refuses to say he has any needs or wants any prayers. But we pray for him and seek to get to know him. And gradually he’s opening up little by little.
CCDC is a loving refuge from an uncaring world. People can walk in and find not only a place at a table with great meals but a place with people sharing God’s unconditional love. We share not merely our love but Jesus’ love, which reaches the most distant souls. We know inside of his hardened heart, Cletus needs God’s love.
Come join our volunteers who follow the Eleventh Commandment in their serving all who attend Dinner Church. We’re healing broken hearts like those of Andrew and Lazetha, and softening hearts of those like Cletus.
May God’s Peace be with you,
Pastor Jim and Debby Riley