August 26, 2016

Read 1 Peter 4:8, James 2:15, Prov. 3:27, Romans 12:17-19, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

True story: I tossed and turned and lay awake all night for the very first time in my life, because I was debating on whether or not my favorite bologna sandwich was “too kindergarten” to carry in my first grade lunch. I took a ham sandwich, and no one cared. That was almost fifty years ago, and I still remember the anxiety quite well. Sure I can laugh at it now, but I still remember how it felt. It was a big deal. It is hard to know what is going to be a big deal to someone else.
 
Lost people come to church searching for many things, perhaps they are looking for companionship, a more wholesome lifestyle for their family, opportunities for networking, or help with a troublesome situation. Whatever they seek leads them to have expectations. Relatively few lost people drive into our parking lot expecting to have an encounter with our living Savior. Yet, that encounter begins the first time they make eye contact with a believer. Whether it is jostling for a good parking place or getting directions to a Sunday School room, every encounter is judged against their expectations. We cannot possibly predict what will be a big deal to them. But, our Giver of good gifts has told us that loving earnestly can cover many disappointments and has given us many ideas of what that looks like. A few practical suggestions are: (1) If they lack something necessary, help them obtain it (Jas. 2:15); (2) If there is something good for them in your power to do, do it (Prov. 3:27); (3) If they take your spot, give it to them. Act honorably, live peaceably (Rom. 12:17). Most importantly remember, if our church has the best sermons and lessons, but has not love, we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. If we know the answer to their every question and can solve their every problem, and we have faith to change their world, but have not love, we are nothing. If we bless them with all our best things, our children’s ministry and student ministry, our sports teams, and mission trips, and if we physically work on their behalf even to the point of death, but have not love, we gain nothing.
 
They may have come agonizing over bologna or ham, but don't let them leave without having been loved.