We are losing people from the Body of Christ quite frequently. If anyone asks them why, a frequent answer is, “Christians are worse than everyone else in the world!” If you are a Christian, you’re probably going, “Huh?” We are not being Christlike.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as in fact you are doing.” That last phrase rarely applies, these days.
You know those people that seem to have it all together and you say hello to, but don’t take the time to get to know? They may have it all together, or, their lives may be falling apart. Maybe they are just introverts that are absolutely desperate for friends, but aren’t great at talking, or sharing, or even know how to be a friend, because they’ve never really had one.
That guy that you used to always see busily working in the church behind the scenes. Maybe he used to laugh at your jokes, or try and kid with you. You liked him, but never really got to know him. Maybe he stopped laughing along so much, but you never asked why. All of a sudden, he’s resigned from his position and he’s gone from the church. Did you reach out to him to find out where he is, how he’s doing, what you can do for him? He’s not the easiest guy to get to know, but he is definitely worth it. Only, depression hit him really hard. He prayed for help, but not one Christian took the time to notice that he wasn’t doing okay. If God really loved him, surely God would have nudged one of “His” people to talk to him. God’s people were just too busy taking care of all of our own things, our own problems, our own busy-ness that we didn’t pay attention. Now that guy figures God just isn’t there. Even after he told one or two strong Christians he’s really depressed, no one stepped out to really spend some time and talk to him, encourage him, or just be there for him.
That couple that slips in just as, or just after service starts and slips out just as fast at the end? Have you taken the time to go find out their names? Have you found out where they are from, how they met, what they do for a living? Have you invited them over for dinner? Have you even gone and sat with them?
You know that lady that smiles and says hello and occasionally asks how you’re doing? Have you noticed that no one sits with her? Maybe she looks like she’s involved in a lot of things and knows a lot of people, do you know that she’s the loneliest person in the world? Maybe she doesn’t smile as much as she used to. Did you take the time to ask her what’s wrong and be there for her?
That person that just looks different, not what you think a “christian” should look like, they may be the strongest Christian you’ll ever meet. Just because life didn’t go according to plan, or someone didn’t meet God until after some living on their own, doesn’t mean they aren’t who God means them to be, where God means them to be. And, they still need to be surrounded by other Christians, no matter how strong, or weak, their relationship with God is.
Those people that rarely have a prayer request, but on rare occasions will give one, that is a desperate request. They ask you to pray for their child, because they are afraid their child is going to get caught up in something life altering and/or deadly. They ask for you to pray for their health because it’s gotten so bad they are pretty sure they are going to die at any time. They don’t want to and probably won’t give you details. You don’t need to know the details, but you do need to get to know the person. You need to pray for them, even when they aren’t around and don’t know that you’re praying. You DON’T need to share their request with someone else, but you can ask others to remember them in their prayers. Maybe you and some of your friends can take them to lunch or out for coffee and just include them.
The “church” is the body of Christ. God has gifted each of us very differently. We need to use those gifts to build up the rest of the body. When a fingernail falls off, there is a reason. When a toe goes completely numb, something is wrong. Yes, we are all busy with our own lives and each of us has our own multitude of problems, but, Christ told us to be here for one another. How can we share the love of Christ, when we don’t KNOW the people that are around us and don’t take the time to try? Figure out how to use your gifts to benefit the body. Then do it!
Oh yeah, those people that encourage others. If they are the ones that encourage, who encourages them? You don’t have to be an encourager to encourage someone.
I hope, if you are a Christian, you’ve been convicted to get to know those people around you in church. Maybe a big hug isn’t what they need. Don’t just say, “Hi, how are you doing?” and not take the time to listen and ask them about what they told you in a few days, or next week. Really take the time to get to know the people around you. You encourage them and build them up by being a friend who has gotten to know them, listens to them and that they can turn to and confide in. That’s a lot easier for some people than it is for others. Let’s get our faces out of FB, Twitter, every other social media outlet and our phones and build up the body of Christ. We need to hold fast to one another.
Did you think of someone you haven’t seen at church in a while? Maybe someone that you see at church, but looks like one of those people? Call them! Take the time to get to know them! BE A FRIEND! Will it be easy? No. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Besides, this was what God told you to do. Don’t believe me, read your Bible. Check out the old and new testaments.