Last week, after Mike shared what was wrong with the church, he offered this advice: “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.”
- We need to go back to the basics of being the church.
- We need to “know” God and desire to see others know.
- We need to “live” the word through our actions daily.
Good advice but how should we respond? I believe there is another side to this story. I left the church as a young person but I came back. Why? Read on.
Shortly after finishing college, I began selling automobiles. Another salesman suggested that I visit a few churches. “It would be good for business,” he said. While this is not usually a good reason to attend, I was willing to try. So, one Sunday morning, I showed up at a nearby church and took a seat in the back of the sanctuary. Just then, a man I immediately recognized walked in.
I was in trouble. This man purchased a used car from me, had problems and left the dealership dissatisfied. Have you ever wished that the floor would open up and swallow you whole? I tried to scrunch my body behind the pew so he wouldn’t see me, but to no avail. Recognizing me immediately, he walked my way.
“Larry Davies, you’ve got a lot of nerve showing your face here.” No! That’s not what he said, but it is what I expected and probably deserved. Instead it was: “Larry Davies, what a wonderful surprise.”
- He offered no judgment of what happened.
- He sat beside me and talked as if we had been friends for years.
- He enthusiastically told me about his church and promised to pray for me.
- He began to introduce me to others in the congregation as his friend.
- He helped me become involved in a small group with people my age.
I soon felt at home in my new church. All because one person 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 I will always be grateful for his 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 suggested? We need to go back to the basics of being the church. We need to “know” God and desire to see others know. We need to “live” the word through our actions daily.
The key 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.
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.