Summary: To create an irresistible culture of compassion in the church, love one another and work with your own hands.
Early on a Sunday morning several years ago, a 7-year-old boy in Plain City, Utah, hopped in his parents’ car, pulled out of the driveway, and took off down the road.
Not long after, local police began receiving complaints about an erratic driver in a white Dodge Intrepid. When deputies located the vehicle and turned on their flashers, the boy refused to pull over, instead leading police on a low-speed chase through the streets of Plain City.
Sheriff's lieutenant Matthew Bell believes there is a practical reason the boy never exceeded 40 miles per hour: “His speed was slow, but erratic,” Bell said. “He would kind of scoot down lower to push on the gas, and kinda sit up on the seat more to see where he was going.”
The chase finally ended when the boy pulled back into the driveway of his suburban home, hopped out of the car, and ran into the garage. When confronted by police, the 7-year-old explained the motivation behind his unexpected joyride: he didn’t want to go to church (“Sheriff's office releases chase video of 7-year-old driver,” www.ksl.com, 7-29-09; www.PreachingToday.com).
It’s amazing what some people will do to avoid going to church, but the question is: What can WE do to make our church the place where people want to come? What can WE do to attract disinterested people to our fellowship where they can encounter Christ? What can WE do to reach out to people who are not a part of the church and don’t want to be? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Thessalonians 4, where the Bible talks about how to behave towards “outsiders,” who are not part of the church.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (ESV)
To walk properly before outsiders, first of all...
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Care for each other. Create an irresistible culture of compassion within the church.
That means love each other like brothers and sisters (vs.9). Treat each other like family, because that is what we are – we are the family of God!
Aristides, an 2nd Century Greek historian, was trying to describe Christians to the Roman emperor Hadrian, and this is what he said: “They love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God” (The Apology of Aristides, as translated by D. M. Kay).
That was the reputation the early church had. Oh, that it becomes our reputation today! If that were to happen, you’d have to bar the doors to keep people away.
Four years ago (2016) Time Magazine identified what it called “240 Reasons to Celebrate America Right Now.” Number 77 was none other than the lowly, but always open Waffle House. According to the author Ben Goldberger, “it's so dependable that FEMA has a so-called Waffle House Index for disasters; if the locations are closed, you know things are bad.”
The food is not half bad, but those who sing its praises do so not because of the food, but because of the way they take care of their customers. One customer said, “There's no ego, no pretension… it's welcoming to all.” Daniel Humm, a high-end New York restauranteur, visited a Waffle House and reported: “It was a reminder of how important hospitality is. We just felt so taken care of.” (Ben Goldberg, Time Magazine, “77. Where Hash Browns are Heavenly,” 7-11-16; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s a picture of what the church should be. It should be a place where there is no ego, no pretense, a place where people can say, “We just felt so taken care of.”
Faith Bible Church is already that kind of place, but let’s “do this more and more” as verse 10 says. For if we excel in this kind of love, we won’t be able to keep people away. To create an irresistible culture of compassion, love each other like brothers and sisters.