Yesterday was a wonderful day filled with new experiences, making new friends and a foretaste of good things to come in future weeks and months.
Norma Jean and I are spending the week in the Smoky Mountains. We worshiped with and I spoke for two different churches in the area. Sunday morning we met with the brethren in Seymour, Tennessee, and Sunday evening we worshiped with the church on Highway 321 in Cosby.
As I reflected on the opportunity of being with both churches on the same day, it caused me to think about our word of the week “common.”
While the word may be used used to refer to that which is mediocre or inferior, that’s the seventh definition in dictionary.com. I am using the word to speak of that which is mutually shared such as common interests. It means “belonging equally to.” It pertains to a shared culture or community.
It was our first time to meet with both groups, but we shared much in common. The basis of our commonality was the “common salvation” (Jude 3). A salvation that is grounded on and founded in the “common faith” (1 Tim. 1:4).
You are never a stranger when you meet with God’s people because you possess a common fellowship, community, and comradeship. As a result, we enjoy divine association with God. And with each other. It is a joint-participation. Partnership. And commonality in Christ.
At both congregations, we sang common spiritual hymns and participated in a common worship as we took communion. We felt an immediate affinity and affection for these brethren. And, of course, what we learned is that we had a common association with mutual friends.
In both congregations, we met folks from my home state of Indiana. We met a family we knew years earlier when we lived in Columbia, Tennessee. Over lunch at a good country cooking restaurant, we learned that Gary Stephens in Seymour is a second cousin to Mike Stephens, my friend and fellow preacher I will be working with this summer in Canada.
In Cosby, I met Mark Etheridge a facebook friend that I bought an iPhone from a few years ago. Their preacher, Olie Williamson, and his wife Mary invited us home for a meal following the service and we learned how much we had in common. They lived in Florida for several years, Mary attended the same college I did and we knew so many of the same brethren in Tampa and Orlando.
I chose to speak to both groups about the power of encouragement. The need for encouragement. How we can encourage each other. And specific groups that need encouragement. I hope they were encouraged because we surely were by our common association.
I’m reminded that people who are not plugged in to a local church family are missing out on one of the greatest blessings of life. Also when you travel, find a local church you have something in common with and worship with them. You will be blessed by the experience.
Our association with these fine brethren yesterday brings to mind the lyrics of a song written by Charles F. Brown.
A common love for each other
A common gift to the Saviour
A common bond holding us to the Lord
A common strength when we are weary
A common hope for tomorrow
A common joy in the truth of God’s word
Thank you, Lord, for the common salvation, and the common faith that we share wherever we go.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman