Deep in the mountains of West Virginia, there lived a young mother, Ellen and her little boy, David. One day, David was playing basketball in the living room. He knew it was wrong, but nothing would happen, right? Wrong! The basketball hit the crystal lamp, a precious heirloom from Ellen's parents, and the lamp fell off the table and shattered on the floor with a loud CRASH!

David knew he was in trouble and needed to do something quickly. Ellen came running into the living room, looked at the scattered pieces of her precious lamp and then looked at David. Before she could say anything, however, David suddenly began screaming: "I hate you! I hate you!"

David knew this was a really dumb thing to say, but he couldn't stop screaming, so he ran out the back door through his back yard, toward a ledge overlooking a huge canyon that stretched out for miles below, still yelling at the top of his lungs, "I hate you. I hate you!"

Suddenly a loud, booming voice answered, "I hate you! I hate you!"

David stopped, looked around in terror and then flew back toward the house as fast as his little legs would carry him and into his mother's arms crying, "Mommy, mommy, someone hates me!"

Ellen quietly comforted her little boy and then walked with him to the ledge. "Now David, I want you to yell as loud as you can, 'I love you! I love you!'"

David hardly finished shouting the words when the booming voice replied, "I hate you!" (Oops, I just wanted to see if you were alert.) The voice actually replied, "I love you! I love you!"

You don't need to be an expert on atmospheric conditions to know that David heard an echo. Funk & Wagnall's Dictionary defines echo as "the repetition of a sound by the reflection of sound waves from an opposing surface." Definition two broadens the meaning of echo to include our relationship with others: "The repetition or reproduction of the views, style, etc., of another."

People often respond to our attitudes much like an echo. If we are surly and mean, then we can expect much of the same from anyone with whom we come in contact. Of course, the same is true when we treat others with genuine love and respect.

Our greatest challenge as Christians is to live a life others would want to echo. What sort of echo are you creating? Jesus said, "This is what I say to all who will listen to me: Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you. Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you." (Luke 6:27-28 CEV)

Isn't this the real challenge for each of us? Aren't we to live as an echo of Jesus Christ?

There is an old story about a visitor inquiring of a pastor if his church was a decent place to attend.

"How do you like where you are attending now?" asked the pastor.

What sort of echo are you creating?
"The people are arrogant. The minister is boring. Frankly, I hate the place!" the visitor replied.

"Yes," sighed the minister. "You'll find this church can be the same way!"

Several weeks later, another visitor came and asked the same question about the church and the pastor replied with the same question: "How do you like where you are attending now?"

"The people are kind. The minister is interesting. I absolutely love going there!" this visitor replied.

"Yes," sighed the wise pastor. "You'll find this church can be the same way!"

Wait a minute: Did you just hear an echo?