1 Thessalonians 5:11; “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
I was recently talking with a man in a Star Bucks where I had been enjoying a cup of coffee as I waited to meet with some fellow pastors. In the casual way of being friendly, the man across from me and I began to talk. We were exchanging general information, but then he asked me why I was in town. After I told him I was a pastor, he responded in what has become a familiar way, “Oh, really. Huh.” But then he continued “I think that being a good person and following what God says is what is most important. You don’t have to go to church to be good.” I agreed with him, to a point.
There is something very important about going to church. It is something you can’t get on your own, regardless of how closely you follow God’s word. That thing is community. The church community can be incredibly powerful or destructive. When the church community is one that upholds people who are sick or broken or doubting without judgment, it is doing its work. When the church community is one that raises children to believe in big ideas and a big God that can sustain them through their entire life, it is doing its work. When the church community is one that challenges the good Christians to be even better, and to walk closer with God and God’s people, it is doing its work. When the church community is one that has diversity of beliefs and allows people to disagree in a kind and supportive way, it is doing its work. When the church community is one that includes everyone, to whatever level their abilities permit, in the mission of the church, it is doing its work.
There are many destructive things that church communities can do, but only if the people within them choose that way of being a community. God chooses life and hope. Our communities should do likewise, by how we treat each other both in the church walls and outside of them.
I hope that this man will one day find the value of a church community, not because someone encouraged him with their words to do so, but because they showed him with their actions how powerful they can be. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loves us and by his grace gives us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Shalom, Pastor Greg