I attend church because it is a place of encouragement. It is more than a positivity in the meeting. The Presence of God creates a spiritual environment that puts peace in the place of turmoil and confusion; forgiveness that overrules any guilt; engenders faith that quiets the storm of fear. I leave happier than when I entered. Obviously, it is not coincidental that the Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter”. In fact that title comes from the same root word as encouragement.
While there is “encouragement in Christ” (Philippians 2:1) even when we are on our own, we have the privilege of working in partnership through the Comforter to “encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). That makes it supernatural encouragement since it originates in God. The foundation of this encouragement is love and its expression is grace. God so loved the world that He sent His Son, Who brought grace and truth into this broken place. Jesus is the ultimate expression of love and grace.
The Holy Spirit engages us in five ways to convey the grace of encouragement. They can be thought of as God’s five love languages that we can learn to express. (An interesting foot note, five is the number associated with grace, and there are five ingredients in the anointing oil in the Old Testament symbol of the Holy Spirit).
Serving is one of the love languages, and is certainly in the character of God. Jesus became “The Servant” Who out of love lay down His life for us. The Holy Spirit is also called “The Helper” Who gives help from the throne of grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Church is a place where you find genuine care and concern and where we too get to be Holy Spirit directed helpers for each other. Such solidarity is great encouragement.
Words of Affirmation
Affirming someone personally gives courage to carry on when the going gets tough. Encouragement sponsored by the Holy Spirit is more than your words, it is a form of prophetic expression that strengthens the soul. A word in a time of doubt is a word in season that has power to accomplish the impossible (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Like Paul (Acts 14:22) we can instil courage and faith by our life stories of God’s faithfulness.
Barnabas encouraged all the believers by selling some of his property and giving it to the apostles to distribute. Did you know his real name was Joseph? Barnabas was his nickname, or a new given name, or perhaps more accurately his giving name. The name means literally “Son of Encouragement”. Giving was his expression of Christ. He gave more than money, he brought Paul to prominence at his own risk. We need to practice “grace giving”. That is different than giving to a need, or because of entitlement, or for ulterior motives. God is a surprise Giver. He does not just give because you need something, or as a reward for good behaviour. He just has a generous spirit!
God can relate to our sin problems. God has a human side. It is Jesus. Jesus is our High Priest who can be “touched” by our weaknesses.. He has tenderness and compassion toward us (Hebrews 4:15). Empathy is the sensitivity that brings encouragement. Paul points out that we are one body, so that when one part suffers, the whole body suffers, and when one part rejoices, everyone experiences joy. The Holy Spirit is the supernatural source of that sense of oneness. Our part in the process means choosing to get in the boat with the one going through rough seas. Jesus did that!
What makes the time spent at church worthwhile? Everyone could be somewhere else, doing something pressing. God intends it to be a party, a celebration feast with invited guests eager to come. You leave better than when you came in. It is interesting, fun, a learning experience, with good tips for practical living. Most important, however, is the opportunity for a God encounter that will be transformational. That gives the time spent a supernatural quality. Nothing compares with His Presence. We strive to make church a place that Jesus enjoys attending.