Several years ago I ran a 1/2 marathon. I remember the exhilaration I felt as I crossed the finish line having run 13.2 miles. I had accomplished my BHAG. (If you aren’t sure what that is check out Jim Collin’s book Built to Last.)
But it wasn’t easy.
It was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I’ve ever accomplished. There were moments in training I wanted to quit. Some mornings the alarm would go off, and I’d lie in the warm bed hoping for another hour of sleep. During the race, there was a time I thought I wouldn’t make it. About the tenth mile, as I was running uphill, my legs felt like limp noodles, and my lungs gasped for air. Just three more miles!
What got me through the tough times? Looking back there’s only one answer to that question.
I know. You thought I was going to say, “Jesus.” That would be the Sunday School answer, right? I certainly don’t want to minimize God’s presence in the journey, and I don’t want to discredit His grace in giving me the ability to run. However, through that journey, I clearly see how God used people in my life to keep me going.
My wife played the biggest role. She was my accountability to make sure I kept to my training schedule in pace and length. My kids were cheering me on at home, wanting to hear what my average pace was for my weekend “long” run. During the race, there were countless spectators, friends, and strangers standing along the course offering water and words of encouragement.
Without people in our lives, we drift toward neutral.Without people in our lives, we drift toward neutral. Click To Tweet
If there is anything we have learned over the last several months, it’s that the Church is not a building. The Church is a people called for a purpose (Love God) and sent on a mission (Love People).
When the Bible describes the Church, it’s more than a group of spectators standing on the sideline cheering one another on. It’s a group of Believers committed and devoted to one another. (By the way, commitment means “going all in,” and devotion means “staying all in.”)
Here are a few things we need to be reminded of about our Church people.
The Church is a place of encouragement when things get hard.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve come to church with a burden on my shoulders. It never fails. I always leave with the weight lifted. Sometimes, I’m laying that burden at the feet of Jesus, and other times God uses someone to carry that burden with me.
Sometimes it’s a prayer someone prays, a song someone sings, a random act of kindness, or a simple word of inspiration. Each and every time, the burden gets lighter.
Now, more than ever, people need our encouragement. People need our love. People need our support.
The Church is a place of comfort when things get uncomfortable.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The comfort Paul is talking about here is not the plush, feather pillow that brings you relaxation at night. Read the Scripture above again. Did you notice when the comfort comes? In all our troubles.
The comfort God brings us is an internal peace, allowing us to breath deeply in the midst of trouble. After we experience that comfort, we are called to comfort one another with the same comfort we have received.
Church should be the place where people find comfort.
The Church is a place of truth in a world of falsehood.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“I’m just not sure who to trust anymore.” No exaggeration. I’ve heard several people say that recently.
We are constantly being bombarded with conflicting messages. How do we differentiate between what’s true and what’s propaganda? How can we know if a source is trustworthy, or if they’re just out for click bait?
To be honest…it’s hard to tell. That’s why we must continually point people toward Jesus. He not only knows the truth, but He is the truth. Only by drawing close to the truth do the lies begin to stand out. The Church must continue to be a place of truth. People deserve it.
I want to encourage you to be part of your local church. Whether Antioch is your home, or some other place is your home. Commit yourself to be someone of encouragement, comfort, and truth.