A tall woman in jeans and a light blouse greeted my wife and me with “Bonjour.” Around us, people welcomed one another with a noisy kiss on each cheek. By now, we knew we “weren’t in Kansas anymore.”
We were standing at the information table inside LifePoint Church, on the fourth floor of a downtown office in Brussels, Belgium.
The woman offered us a choice of coffee or tea as I explained how we’d be in Belgium through November.
“When did you arrive in Brussels?” she asked
“Friday,” Becky replied.
“And you came here first?” she asked.
“Well, not literally ‘first,’” I qualified. “Technically, we took a shower first.”
“Wow! Aren’t you exhausted?” she asked.
I smiled, explaining how we’d made time to adjust to jet lag. We’d come from Sacramento via stops in New York and Iceland. We’d landed in Belgium less than 48 hours previous.
Our greeter wasn’t the first person to express surprise that we came to church so quickly after our arrival.
Nevertheless, I was caught short in my answer, a bit surprised at myself. Am I really so “religious” that I must report to church first thing? I’d never thought so.
The clarity came when Pat Hood stood to preach.
Through a French translator, he explained that the Brussels church was a church plant, or franchise, of the mother LifePoint in Smyrna, Tennessee. Hood is the senior pastor in Smyrna, but helps to fill the interim while the Brussels campus searches for a French-speaking pastor.
Hood directed the congregation of 70 to the words of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:25ff. “Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another….”
It’s a great passage that inspires the church, but it was the phrase “one another” that had my attention. It’s a catchphrase used over 50 times in the New Testament to hearten people of faith to do such things as, love one another, stop passing judgment on one another, honor one another, etc.
Furthermore we are told to speak, submit, love, honor, forgive, instruct and be kind – all commands qualified by the words “one another.”
And where are we supposed to learn and practice those things? Apparently the church is our laboratory or classroom. Paul tells us we aren’t to cut class or “give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”
So yes, I found a church quickly. Not because I’m an ordained, Right-Reverend, member of the clergy required to do some kind of professional check-in.
I went because church is my practice field where I will exercise love, honor, compassion and forgiveness. It’s here among people of like-mind and faith that I will be “spurred on” to live out these one-another traits. After all, if I can’t find some success in a church, then I probably need to stay for extra practice before I go onto the field of life.
By the way, I’m having trouble with a few of these one-another directives. John 13 says we are to wash one another’s feet. Not sure I’m up to that one yet.
Fortunately, I like the one-another way the French practice Romans 16:16, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Although, I should say that Madame Chaplain isn’t quite as enthusiastic about it.
C’est la vie. Until next week – kiss, kiss, and au revoir.
See more at http://lifepointchurch.org/brussels-en
Read Norris’ past columns at http://www.thechaplain.net. Write him at email@example.com. Twitter @chaplain or call (843) 608-9715.