I was very challenged and, um, encouraged to read this quote today on encouragement. It’s an excerpt from Tullian Tchividjian’s upcoming book Unfashionable, and he’s talking about how encouraging other people can be one of the best forms of evangelism. As I read his theological rationale for this assertion, however, I was struck by what a peacemaking mindset this is — that building a culture of peace in your church isn’t just about “keeping the peace” so you can do “real ministry,” but it’s having the gospel impact how we view one another; it’s about moving outside of ourselves because of the cross and helping people live out the reality of who God is in their lives and relationships. And encouragement is such a basic — but oft overlooked — dynamic of helping people live out our common identity in Christ.
So, without further ado, here’s Tullian’s quote:
Since encouraging others is the verbal affirmation of God’s reflection in and through them, then encouraging people awakens in them their sense of being made in God’s image. It causes them to feel different, alive, profoundly human—and this helps them to become aware that they are more than a number, more than a product, more than a machine, more than a chance happening. It helps them to feel that they are, in fact, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This forces them to reflect deeply on who they really are as human beings, which in turn causes them to reflect on their Creator. As Calvin observed, none of us can honestly examine ourselves without coming to see that we’re created by someone for someone. This recognition stirs up real humanness in people, causing them to reflect on what they’re missing spiritually (not materially). They start sensing how there’s more to who they are than what this world is telling them.