And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
We live in an apartment complex. Student housing actually. Pretty nice. Hundreds of people and families living in a complex, most of who are preparing for some type of ministry. Pastors, missionaries, student ministers, worship leaders…they are all here. Preparing for future ministry opportunities.
We have lived in our apartment 4 months. We walk almost nightly around the neighborhood, trying to fend off rigamortis, and we smile at people we walk past, wave as they drive by say hello to those who look our way. I see some folks I have had a class with, but mostly they keep their heads down as they walk to their car, or walk past with out looking our way. In all the apartments in our area, we have met 1 family. They live 2 doors down. Young married couple with a 6 month old girl, and yes she is precious. They are great people. They are the reason we are in a small group. They invited us when they saw us at church.
I have found that most folks are afraid to meet new people. I don’t think they are unwilling, but they are uncomfortable. They are not sure when or where to make themselves available for discussions. After all most of us are so busy we really do not have time. I have met some fascinating people while here in Seminary. But for the most part, people on campus and here at the apartment complex just do not know how to meet new folks.
I have been in churches that the same problem exists. Over all people are nice, and a couple may actually start a conversation, but mostly we just smile at one another and do our thing. We were in the hospital the other day and I saw a Marine on crutches hobbling down the hall. I asked him “how you doing?” “hurting” he said. That was it. I just left him alone, to hobble and to hurt. I should have spoken a word of grace to him. But like most of you, I had some one to see, so I walked on, only to say “I’m sorry about that.” Opportunity to be the Church and I was pre-occupied. Pretty typical. I hate that word.
As I prayed through this, the Lord spoke to my heart. If we are uncomfortable with other believers, or even our neighbors, how much more difficult is our sharing the Gospel? We were meant to live in a community. but the problem with living in community is that we have to be accountable. And truth be known, we do not want people in our business much less be in theirs. We haven’t been to our small group in 3 weeks due to traveling and the birth of our grandchild. I miss the accountability, comradery, and friendships. I want to be asked why I was not there, how my bible study time is, if I am praying, am I spending time with my wife. These things are essential.
I have good friends. Friends who know me and are not afraid to “get all up in my chili.” That is why they are so dear to me. We have community. We walk this road together, praying for each other, helping each other. All based on a mutual trust and respect and love. I love their kids. I like it that they enjoy us. I like it that they keep my ramblings on track.
We were not meant to walk this earth alone. God has made for us a vehicle that brings comfort and belonging. The Church is meant to be that community. when no other place invites me in, when every one in the world is against me, when nothing goes right…She is there. Warts and all. She is the glorious and magnificent Church. Be the Church to some one today. Speak a word into some ones life. Encouragement, hope, a smile, a concern.