Home > Uncategorized > Encouragement: What If Jesus Comes Back Like That?

Encouragement: What If Jesus Comes Back Like That?

By Richard Zowie

(This column was originally published in www.saworship.com)

Matthew 25:37-40:
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

If we were to simplify spiritual matters, I’d say that Christians have two basic duties to mankind: to evangelize the lost and to encourage or edify other believers. However, both evangelism and encouragement can be done in a vast spectrum of ways.

Let’s take a closer look at encouragement. In a past column, I wrote about Barnabas and his role as an encourager in the book of Acts. First, he encouraged the Apostle Paul in his new faith in Christ and, second, encouraged other believers to accept Paul into their circles.

When it comes to meeting people who either don’t espouse Christianity or seem very rough in their appearance, in the past I’ve felt inclined to walk the other way or simply ignore them. About a year ago, I saw a visitor at church that caused me to do a brief double-take. He had tattoos, lots of them all along his arms. He also had earrings in both ears. But not the small stud or loop earrings you might be imagining. This man had the gauged kind of earrings, ones that looked as thick as padlock shackles. This man must be into pain, I thought, cringing since earrings, body piercing and tattoos aren’t my idea of pleasure activities.

Fifteen years ago, I would’ve turned a cold shoulder toward the man and walked away. The sooner such a person left the church, the better. After all, who needs someone with a “worldly” appearance?

This man reminded me of someone I once knew from church as a teenager growing up in South Texas. “Stanley”, a brand-new Christian, liked to ride motorcycles and came from a very rough background. He told me once that he spent about a year of his life in a coma, courtesy of a motorcycle crash where he wasn’t wearing a helmet. In church, he usually wore one of two t-shirts. One was of a tattoo parlor: it had a skull on it with the caption, “You bet it hurts!”

The other was of a man watching television while—well, I’d rather not get into the details in this type of column except to say that the caption was “New Father.” When Stanley wasn’t wearing questionable t-shirts, he would often raise his hand to ask a question during a sermon. This was just something you didn’t do in the church I grew up in. Sometimes the pastor would answer his question, and other times he would politely motion for him to wait until the sermon was over. This visitor from church recently and Stanley would be very easy for some to write off, especially if you’re a stuffy person who feels that everyone in church needs to dress just right and act just right.

Instead, the two men pose an interesting thought. As Christians, we are called to be separate from the world, but yet be in it to make an eternal difference. Some Christians may prefer to distance themselves from people who curse, drink, smoke, live immoral lifestyles and dress in inappropriate attire, but too often we forget the example set before us.

Jesus was holy and sinless, but He also spent much of his time with publicans, tax collectors, prostitutes and other undesirables in society—including a Samaritan woman. While Jesus spent much of His earthly ministry around “worldly” people, He never became part of them. He showed them that while He loved them and cared about them, He never condoned their lifestyle or partook in it. To the woman who was caught in adultery in John 8:1-11, while Jesus encouraged the one without sin to cast the first stone at her, He also told her, “Go, and sin no more.” Jesus in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 tells us to go into the world and evangelize. This requires not barricading ourselves at home and sealing ourselves off from the world, but going out and trying to make a difference. Our time on earth is very short, and it’s up to us to make the best of it.

At college, I had a suitemate whose father worked in Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. Tony said once in a prayer meeting that his father talked of being “insulated” rather than “isolated.”

In my life I’ve spent a lot of time around people who don’t know the Lord or those who are lapsed Christians. In the service, I knew several Wiccans, practitioners of eastern religions, those who either didn’t believe in God or who didn’t care and those who were hedonistic in their lifestyles. As I look back on my four years in the Army and years since then, I have learned that adopting an isolated, holier-than-thou attitude does nothing to win people to Christ and help those who are Christians grow in their faith. The best way to reach the lost and reach out to fellow Christians is to be an encourager. Show that you care about them; and when talking to them, make their concerns your main interest. Be an unconditional friend. One service member I knew, who was not a professing Christian, became well-thought of and popular because he was an excellent listener. As I looked at this guy, I thought that this was the direction I should pursue.

Soon, by being an encourager, friends might say something to you like, “There’s something different about you. What makes you so different?”

“I’m a Christian.”

“Really? What made you decide to become a Christian?”

By doing this and by maintaining your testimony, you can then get through doors that might normally be accessible. Perhaps you might not get a chance to directly lead many to the Lord, but you can at least plant seeds and water what’s already planted—all while remaining a Christian who encourages without asking for anything in return.

Jude 20-22: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference…”
[Emphasis mine]

One important reason for encouraging comes from the Collin Raye song “What If Jesus Comes Back Like That.” The first stanza of the song deals with a hobo who drifts into town. Many are put off by this undesirable transient and work to have him driven out of town. In the chorus of the song (written by Pat Bunch and Doug Johnson), Raye sings:

On an old freight train in a hobo hat
Will we let him in or turn our back
What if Jesus comes back like that
Oh what if Jesus comes back like that

Later in the song is this poignant stanza:

Nobody said life is fair
We’ve all got a cross to bear
When it gets a little hard to care
Just think about him hanging there

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. operationkidsorg
    April 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Richard!

    If you like Collin Raye you should check out “She’s With Me” by Collin. He wrote it for his granddaughter who has a neurological condition that no one’s been able to diagnose.

    Collin Raye and Operation Kids partner to help families facing extraordinary medical expenses. For $5 you help a child and receive Collin’s new song, “She’s With Me”, as a gift.


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