This past Sunday my wife and I attended a church we had never visited before. We were out of town for the weekend, and we unfamiliar with the area. We selected the church by looking in the phone book and then checking out the web site of the church we selected.
Visiting a church is always an interesting experience for me. It is fascinating to think that (assuming you visit a church that believes and preaches the Bible) I have “family members” all over the world–brothers and sisters in Christ. In that regard, I know I can go into a new church and feel at home. At the same time, though, I also know that when I visit a church I will more than likely get asked multiple times what my name is, whether I am new to the area, what brings me there, where I am from, etc., etc. (This assumes I am visiting a church that actually notices and speaks to visitors!) That part, frankly, I could do without. It almost makes me wish I could stand up in the service and tell everyone at once so I don’t have to repeat it over and over again. (Come to think of it, I visited a church last September that asked me to do just that. Of course, my family of four increased that day’s attendance by about 25%, too, so it was pretty obvious to everyone that we were the visitors!) Visiting churches is also interesting for seeing what ministries other churches offer, how they conduct their services, etc. From that perspective I quite enjoy the experience, and I love to read church bulletins.
Now I digress. This is not supposed to be about visiting a new church. I was merely trying to set the stage for what I really want to share, and it just so happened that the inspiration for this came while we were visiting the church on Sunday. The congregation was singing a hymn. (An actual hymn…in a hymn book! The words were projected on screens, but the song leader actually said, “Please turn with me to page ___ in your hymnbook.” That in and of itself qualifies as rare nowadays!) I remember that the song title included the word “wondrous.” I cannot remember if it was “Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus,” (also known as “When We All Get to Heaven”) or “I Will Sing the Wondrous Story,” but it doesn’t matter. The point is that it was a joyful song about the wonderful love of Jesus, and the gift of eternal life made possible through salvation.
As we were singing I looked off to my left (you know you look around in church, too). Across the aisle and two or three rows ahead of us was an older man. He was singing the words to the song, yet he had his arms folded high on his chest, his head was leaning down and he was looking over the top of his glasses, and he had a bit of a frown on his face. Quite frankly, I think the best way to describe this gentleman is that he was harrumphing.
Now, I don’t know the man in question. Sunday was the first time I have ever laid eyes on him, and I did not speak to him. Please do not think I am judging him, because that is not my intention. However, seeing the obvious disconnect between his facial expression/physical posture and the song he was singing was almost comical. His demeanor seemed to be saying, “Bless me if you can, I dare you,” while his mouth was singing the wondrous love of Jesus. It just didn’t fit.
We have probably all seen people like that from time to time. Truth be told, we have probably all been those people from time to time. Honestly, it was convicting for me to think about. I’m not one to bubble over with emotion or even be liberal with my smiles. I have been accused more than once of seeming standoffish or unapproachable. I have tried to work on that, because I don’t intend to send that message (most of the time!) But it is also a good reminder that if my actions and my life do not line up with my words, there is a disconnect that is going to cancel out my words every time, because actions will always speak louder. It reminded me of something I heard or read once, though I don’t remember where: If you know Jesus and you have the joy of the Lord in your life, don’t forget to tell your face!