Day 40: Are you missing out on the benefits of deep conversation?

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 

Romans 1:11-12

What do you talk about at church?

We all do it. “Let’s get together for a time of ‘fellowship.'” And what tends to happen? A conversation like the following? :

“Do you think (Tom) Brady is all washed up?”

“I sure hope so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays until he’s 60.”

“Yeah, and Belichick will coach until he’s 90. . .”

Or:

“Do you think that The Rise of Skywalker was better than The Last Jedi?”

“Honestly, I’ve hated every Star Wars movie since the original trilogy.”

(45 minutes later)

“Well at least Disney+ has given us some good new shows.”

Hey, I’m not trying to fault anyone for talking football or Star Wars or Say Yes to the Dress or whatever it is that you like to chat about at church events. And I think it can be really good to just shoot the breeze with fellow believers.

But do you ever use idle chatter to distract from the really painful and/or important topics? Do you turn to sports talk only after you ask “how have you been growing in your faith, brother?” or “What have you been struggling with and how can I pray for you?” Do you speak life into fellow believers or do you just speak death into Tom Brady’s career? (And Rian Johnson’s directing abilities [please forgive my footbal/Star Wars references today]).

Look at what Paul says to the Romans today. He longs to be with the Romans to impart a spiritual gift. As clarification he adds that he dearly wants to be with them so that they would encourage each other in the faith. It can be tough to encourage each other. It can be tough to bear each other’s burdens and and pray with one another when we need healing or just need some good news.

Please reap the benefits

It’s so much easier to make small talk, but small talk won’t help heal the gnawing sense of hopelessness within you, or neverending familial drama, or deaths of friends and family members. If you aren’t getting together with brothers and sisters in the faith to dig into the vulnerable and, yes, even painful parts, the I’m not here to condemn you, because I do it to. But I am here to tell you that you are missing out on great joys, and great healing, and great peace. Some of the greatest blessings in life come when you’re willing to share your most vulnerable spots with trusted believers. And if you happen to be that confidant in whom a hurt Christian is placing his or her trust, then please don’t blow them off or break the tension with an off hand or sarcastic comment (I do both all the time.) Please take their trust seriously and please take Paul’s example seriously. It can be great to talk football, but it can be mind-bogglingly beautiful to push off the small talk till well after the BIG TALK.

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