Shortly after finishing college, I began selling automobiles. A friend talked me into visiting church. He said, “It would be good for business.”
While this is not usually a good reason to attend church, I was at least willing to go. So, one Sunday morning, I showed up at a nearby church and took a seat in the back of the sanctuary. Just then, two men I immediately recognized walked in.
I knew this was trouble. Both men purchased used cars from me. Both had problems and left the dealership dissatisfied. I remember wishing the floor would open up and swallow me whole? I tried to scrunch my body behind the pew so they wouldn’t see me, but to no avail. They recognized me immediately and walked my way.
“Larry Davies, you’ve got a lot of nerve showing your face here.” No! That’s not what they said, but it is what I expected and probably deserved.
Instead they both said: “Larry Davies, what a wonderful surprise.”
- They offered no judgment of what happened.
- They sat beside me and talked as if we had been friends for years.
- They enthusiastically told me about their church and promised to pray for me.
- They began to introduce me to others in the congregation as their friend.
- They helped me become involved in a small group with people my age.
I soon felt at home in my new church. All because two people who should have been angry with me, reached out the hand of friendship and offered the forgiving love of Jesus Christ. Looking back, I realize this was a key moment in my life and will always be grateful for their encouragement.
The author of Hebrews spoke of encouragement to a church full of people who were hurt and seriously thinking of leaving their faith: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Three ways to be the church.
- Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm.
- Let us motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
- Let us not neglect our meeting together but encourage one another.
The key word is encouragement. An encouraging church brought me back to God’s arms. Encouragement in the midst of a discouraging world is the reason that despite our many problems, the church is still God’s answer for a hurting world.
Remember what Mike said at the beginning of this article? “We (the church) need to go back to the basics. Give me people who “know” God and desire to see others come to this knowledge. Let us then go and “live” the word through our actions daily, integrated into a lost world, loving it.”
We need to go back to the basics of being the church.
We need to “know” God and desire to see others come to this knowledge.
We need to go and “live” the word through our actions daily, integrated into a lost world, loving it.
The key lesson is in understanding and utilizing the power of one word: encouragement.
Becoming an encourager doesn’t simply mean speaking in flowery platitudes but rather looking to motivate others to acts of love and good works. With God’s guidance we can all be encouragers.
One Sunday after I began attending church, the choir director walked up to me: “I heard you singing during worship today and really liked the sound of your voice. Would you be interested in joining our choir?” Thanks to her continuing encouragement, I did join the choir and rediscovered that I could really sing after all – well, sort of. Encouragement really works.
God lovingly gives us the freedom to choose how we interact with others. My prayer is that we will all strive to be encouragers in order to inspire others to outbursts of love and good deeds. Maybe that is what being the church is all about.
We could certainly do worse! Hey, maybe I should sing a solo? Not!!