“Therefore encourage and build each other up…” I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Attitude goes a long way. I have heard this countless times in my forty years of life. From teachers
to students, coaches to athletes, and even doctors to patients, it is a reminder that one’s outlook on a situation
can have a tremendous impact upon the future. It is no guarantee that circumstances will always go the way we
want them to, but attitude does shape the quality of effort we are willing to put into a task and the level of drive
that keeps us moving forward. Attitude is something to be kept in check from time to time. How many times
have we heard someone tell another that he or she has a bad attitude about something? Whether it be a test in
school or a job to be completed around the house, it is common for children and, yes, adults to have a need for
an attitude adjustment when everything they see, feel, and do seems to be going the wrong direction. As long as
a person tells him or herself this cannot possibly be done or this is a waste of effort, then he or she will see
nothing but the negative side of things. His or her glass will always be “half-empty” we might say. However,
there are moments when things may very well be going in the wrong direction or coming apart at the seams, but
even then, some are capable of maintaining a positive outlook and press forward with a can-do spirit within
themselves. Such individuals take things in stride and make the most of scenarios that are far from ideal. This
does not mean they deny reality and pretend there is nothing abnormal in life, but they see their predicament as
one which is still worthy to be lived through in spite of what the naysayers might suggest. Yes, attitude can,
and usually does, make a difference.
I believe this to be true not only in everyday life, but also vitally important to the living of our faith
within and through the Body of Christ. While this may have been neglected in our consideration of faithful
Christian living before, perhaps now we should rediscover the place of attitude within the practice of our faith.
I suggest “now” being a time for rediscovery as a result of the quagmire within which we presently find
ourselves living. As I stated in my September article, this year has been far from a “cup of tea” and with each
passing day it hardly seems to be improving. Schools are continuing to readjust their teaching plans, political
ads will roll for a few more weeks, and (as I write this) Christmas is three months away. Talk about reasons
which are causing anxiety to escalate in many individuals, Christians included. When we look at the present
situation within the community of faith, we can certainly say things are quite different from where we were just
six months ago. They do indeed look and feel altered. We resumed in-person worship in June, have been
blessed by online Sunday school lessons, helped in feeding many Lucama families during the summer, and now
Marci, in conjunction with the Christian Education Board, is bringing back ministries to our children and youth.
I would love to suggest that we could “snap our fingers” and have fully operational church ministries in no time
at all, but that would offer a false sense of hope. As much as I long for our days to be normal once again, it is
going to take some time. Herein lies the importance of our attitude for these days.
We can follow the model of passing the blame for who, how, and why our current setting is as it is. I
believe we are all frustrated, tired, and maybe not ourselves during this time, and we wish to “get it out” before
we explode. We can give up, kick back, and wait for the return of Christ. We can talk until we are blue in the
face about “how bad things are” and act as though Jesus’ body is still in the grave. We can give the devil the
upper hand by continuing to insist this is not fair. We can…but… There is a different way! There is the way
of a Christian community which truly lives into its profession of hope, peace, joy, and love through Jesus. We
can allow these virtues to serve as our driving force during this season which can rejuvenate our weary hearts
and give us a new sense of purpose in our community and the world at large. The key to this is allowing the
Risen Christ to transform our attitudes of helplessness and negativity into vehicles capable of transmitting his
grace and mercy toward others. This must be the longing of each of us as individual Christians, but also the
bond which holds us together as the Church. In order to develop this form of community which can move us
forward in these times, we must follow the words from Paul which I shared from I Thessalonians 5:11.
Encouragement goes a long way in shaping a Christian attitude which is healthy for every day, but especially
when times are troubling. This is part of what makes doing the faith together vital to our growth in Christ and
continued service for the Kingdom of God. The “doing of the faith together” need not be limited to our in-
person occasions as the Church, but can be formative to us virtually through Facebook, texts, phone calls,
emails, cards, videos, etc.
Our attitude as the people of God is going to be an important aspect in our facing of the future.
Hopefully, we will be reminded how the Church is more than budgets and facilities, but rather a people shaped
through Christ who bring his message of hope to the difficulties of our world. May we encourage one another
to stay the course during this time and may we possess the quality of attitude which says we are in this together
for the long-haul.
Together in Christian Encouragement,
The Reverend Kelley Smart