Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just to see you smile...

I realize it takes muscle to smile, and it's a voluntary feature. There are times when my smile seems automatic, and it's involuntary, whether that makes biological sense or not. Let me explain those times:

- When my wife walks into the room, it makes me smile.
- When my daughter outthinks herself because she's so smart, it makes me smile.
- When my son giggles, it makes me smile.
- When I step into Busch Stadium, it makes me smile.
- When Phil Mickelson acts shocked that he made that putt, it makes me smile.
- When my dog turns her head like she's listening to what I'm saying, it makes me smile.
- When my mom says "I love you, son," it makes me smile. I just don't let her see it.
- When I pass a crowded community park with baseball fields in a random town, it makes me smile.
- When I see a family bowed in prayer in public, it makes me smile.
- When someone shouts "Anchor Down" it makes me smile. Go Dores!
- When they move that bus on the makeover show, it makes me cry usually. And smile too.

These are triggers. You have them, and I'd love in the comments to hear what they are. But what triggers a smile can just as easily trigger the opposite reaction, and often times what once made us smile is the hardest thing to digest. We hate the feeling because we once loved the feeling.

Every divorced parent, tragic loss, broken friendship, lost job, hurt feeling is filled with that overwhelming gut wrenching moment to fathom what once was amazing which is now the hardest thing to endure.

May we take notice that in the Bible Belt of the largest evangelical country on earth, our communities are not often smiling when they hear a mention of the "church." Instead, this term, be it used to represent a group of people or simply a building location, triggers responses within us that aren't always the most positive. The word "church" immediately negotiates a ploy in your belly, either a feeling of discontent and hurt, or an overwhelming sense of hope.

Demographics, and general common sense, says 70 percent of our community isn't smiling about the church. In fact, we aren't willing to engage them many times because we simply take the legalistic approach to evangelism and ignore what they may have to say because it's not what we want to hear. They have much to say, but we'd rather yell scripture at them on church signs than engage them with authenticity.

I don't want a church filled with people who simply are smiling through the culture and ignoring the frowns of their friends and family about what "church" represents. Behind those frowns are souls, many of which who might be in danger of spending an eternity in Hell separated from God because we weren't willing to listen to a dissenting voice and change our approach to reach them.

So how do we engage the culture? Let's make this simple. Let's start with the greatest commandment given by Jesus, to love the Lord your God with all you have, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Funny thing, that makes me smile.

So engage the culture by using the joy bottled within us, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Quit talking, and start DOING.

You can turn your smile into power by:

1. Loving people who need to be loved. A smile will break down walls, and a smile may restore relationships.

2. Forgiving people who have hurt you. A smile is a great start, but a soft answer turns away wrath. Let's quit letting Satan, the enemy of God, destroy our relationships.

3. Listening to people with a different opinion. Know someone of a different faith? Start a conversation. Have a friend with an alternate lifestyle that doesn't line up with your Biblical beliefs? Start a conversation. Hearing a person who's fed up with "church" because of baggage from their past? Start a conversation. Oh, one other thing. Be quiet while you're smiling and actually listen to them.

4. Serving people with no strings attached. Serving is not marketing. Don't serve trying to win them. Don't serve trying to persuade them. Just serve with a smile and be Jesus TO them.

The conversation will open itself and then you can share the Good News. And it may never happen, and that's ok. You just engage, and if the opportunity arises, take it.

Look for the trigger. You know, when they smile.

I love you and these are my thoughts.

Pastor K

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