"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. " John 15:12-13 (NRSV)
Chad B. McRee, from Texas, was serving in Iraq in 2007, when he awoke early one morning with an overwhelming feeling of dread. He prayed desperately that God would protect him and shield his family from the pain they would experience if he didn't return home. He wrote a letter to his wife and children and asked his operations officer to ensure that his family would receive it if anything happened to him.
Despite fear that made him sick to his stomach, they set out on their mission. On the outskirts of Baghdad, they were halted by the frantic Muslim chief of police with whom Chad had been working with for over a year He insisted that they go no further because the road ahead was arrayed with roadside bombs. After further investigation they found that they had been set up for an attack, and their deaths had been averted by this unexpected messenger.
Chad still struggles with thoughts of that day, but he takes comfort in the friendship that God placed in his path through that devoted and honest man. It would have been easy for him to let them drive past or for Chad to ignore his warning. His unlikely friend taught him a lesson about love and kindness that day. Our neighbors are often very different from us. God calls us to seek friendship, kindness, and understanding even from those who appear different. Loving all our neighbors opens us up to great blessings.
Prayer: heavenly Father, teach us to show kindness to strangers. Help us to treat others the way we want to be treated and to embrace all people as your children, in Jesus' name, amen.