After the tsunami in 2004, Owen (the hippo) and Mzee (the tortoise) ended up at the same animal sanctuary where they became inseparable.
This true story of is a wonderful example of how we can all get along regardless of our background or where we have come from.
It’s a wonderful picture of what the world should be like and it is also a reminder of what church should be. Church isn’t an organisation or a building, church is a group of people who are following God together. Jesus taught that we should love one another and the tale of the Hippo and the Tortoise reminds us that loving one another is possible no matter who we are.
Many people will be meeting in church buildings today to worship and to declare our love for God. Part our worship though is that we love each other because we honour and glorify Jesus by doing what he commanded.
Our love for God and love for each other are also linked and inseparable. You cannot have one without the other.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. (1 John 4.11-12)
Let that sink in, it is only in our love for each other that we can receive the full expression of God’s love.
How can we love one another? Jesus said that it is our love that will prove to the world that we are his disciples?
How loving is the church community that you are a part of?
If your response to this question is to roll your eyes and to think ‘not very’ (or a less polite form of those words) then you may feel very righteous until you realize that your response isn’t very loving which is especially ironic.
We can encourage people to be more loving, but to make them love one another is not in our power.
It is though within our power to love others and to demonstrate what real love is.
One of the best and worst things about churches is that they let anyone in. People are part of church who have led broken lives and God is in the process of restoring them. Sometimes in their (or our if we are honest) lives they (or we) can be difficult and the calling of Jesus is to love people even if they do not love and respect us in return. This is one of the hardest things in life to do but it is also the way that Jesus lives and he is our inspiration.
Let’s love one another as Jesus has first loved us.