By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
Brother X and Brother Y both attended the same church. It was called “Bible Believers Church.” They both were professing Christians, and so they had many things in common.
However, they were very different from one another, too. When Brother X went to church he enjoyed the fellowship with others before and after the services. “These folks sure are friendly!,” he thought to himself. And he was certain to speak a good word about the church to anyone who was visiting the services.
But when Brother Y went to church it was a very different matter. “It sure is hard to make friends at this church,” he said to himself. “The people attending our church really don’t care about others like they should,” he told friends from a different church in town.
Brother X was the kind of man who tried hard to get others to visit Bible Believers Church. He invited friends, neighbors and relatives to do so. He knew that he had to do his part if the church were to grow.
But Brother Y . . . well, he sure wasn’t like Brother X! He often complained that so few attended the church. And he seldom, if ever got anyone else to visit the services. “It’s hard to ask others to attend an unfriendly church”, he told himself. He attended regularly, but that was about all he ever did.
Brother X, though, was one who volunteered to help out with projects at church whenever he could. Plus, if he saw that something needed to be done, such as painting a room, he told the pastor he would be glad to do it. He seemed to really enjoy doing things for the church, big or small. “It’s great to serve the Lord through the church!,” he told others. And one of his favorite songs was, “There Is Joy In Serving Jesus”. He often requested it when special requests were taken by the song leader.
Brother Y, on the other hand was quick to notice what needed to be done around the church, but slow to do anything about it. Except to complain. “Why doesn’t someone wash the windows more often?,” he thought. “And why does it take so long to get a fresh coat of paint on the front door of the church?,” he asked himself.
Brother X often noticed the good things about Bible Believers Church. Whenever visitors were in attendance, he told the pastor and others how good it was to have them in attendance. And he was certain to tell the visitors the same thing. And if he liked the special music, he said so. He made an effort to speak words of appreciation to those who did things around the church. That meant a lot to them.
It was not that way with Brother Y. He seldom said a good word about the church. But he was quick to point out what he did not like! And there was a lot he did not like about it. In fact, there were so many things that Brother Y disliked about Bible Believers Church that he finally quit attending. He did not resign. he just dropped out. “I won’t make any trouble if I just drop out. And no one will notice, anyway,” he told himself.
But people did notice. The pastor tried to get him to start attending church again. And so did Brother X. But it did not work. Brother Y simply would not go back to church. Nor did he attend elsewhere. “I don’t know of any church in this town worth attending!,” he muttered to himself.
Some months passed, and new neighbors moved in across the street from Brother Y. He waved to them, but never introduced himself to them. He wasn’t the out-going type. What got Brother Y’s attention was the fact that on Sunday mornings when he would sit on his front step to read the paper and have a cup of coffee, he could see new his neighbors get in their car at about 9:30 with Bibles in hand and drive off. They would return at about 12:30. He assumed that they were going to church. And he was right. They were very dedicated church goers. “I wonder what church they attend,” he said to himself.
Well, one Sunday while Brother Y stayed home, Brother Z and his family, who were Brother Y’s new neighbors, went to church. They heard the pastor preach about the importance of trying to win others to the Lord. The pastor challenged the congregation to speak to others that week about being saved. And he told them to invite others to attend the morning service the following Sunday so that they could hear the Gospel.
Brother Z and his family listened carefully to the sermon that day, and they made up their minds to do what they could to reach someone else for the Lord Jesus Christ. When Brother Z and his family got home from church that day, they sat down to eat Sunday dinner like usual. During the meal, Brother Z looked out the window, and saw Brother Y sitting on his front step reading the paper and drinking coffee.
Suddenly, it occurred to Brother Z that he should go and invite Brother Y to attend church with them the next Sunday. He told his family what he was going to do, and that he would be right back. Mrs. Z told her husband to take along a loaf of fresh bread for the neighbor. And she told Brother Z to ask the neighbor to have dinner with them the next Sunday. She knew friendship could make a good impression on him. So, Brother Z took the fresh bread and went on his mission. The two men had never formally met, and Brother Z was kind of nervous, but he went ahead with his plan anyway.
After they introduced themselves, Brother Z told Brother Y, “I don’t know if you are a church-goer or not, but we would be pleased to have you attend church with us next Sunday morning. And we would like to have you eat dinner with us afterward, too.”
Brother Y was caught off guard by the invitation. He said, “I used to attend church regularly, just like your family does. But I got so fed up with things at my church that I dropped out. That was right before you moved in. I have not been to church in several months, and I don’t know if I will attend again anytime soon. The people at my church were not friendly. They didn’t take care of the property the way they should. I did not like the pastor, and . . . Well, I better not say any more or I will regret it.”
Brother Z was quite surprised at Brother Y’s angry statements. He said, “I am sorry you had such a negative experience. What church did you attend? It sounds like bad news to me.” “Oh, I better not tell you. It will just sound like I am church-bashing. But I have had my fill of church, I can assure you!,” said Brother Y.
Brother Z was not one to give up easily, so he told his neighbor, “I am sorry to hear about your church. But they are not all that way. We went to a really good church back in Ohio. And we are quite pleased with the one we attend now. It has its faults, but all churches do. The folks at our church are friendly. The pastor preaches the Word of God. We sing the great hymns of the faith. And we are trying to reach others with the Gospel of Christ.” Brother Z continued, “I moved to town for a better job at the lumberyard. I met a Christian man there named Brother X. He is one of those guys you can’t help liking. He loves the Lord and has a positive outlook on life. Well, I told Brother X that we were looking for a good church to attend, and he invited us to his church. We tried it out, and joined it shortly afterward. Would you give it a try? It is called Bible Believers Church. Have you ever heard of it? I’m sure it’s better than the one you used to attend.”
“Bible Believers Church? Uh…., uh….., yeah…., yes I have heard of it,” said Brother Y. “You can’t live in this town for as long as I have and not have heard of it.” he said with a strange tone in his voice.
With that, Brother Z said he had to go home and finish his dinner. When he got home his wife and children wanted to know how his conversation with the neighbor went.” That took a lot more than a couple of minutes,” Mrs. Z said. “What’s up?” Brother Z told his wife that he never thought he would get in a discussion like that one. And he told them that Brother Y had dropped out of his church, and his reasons for doing so. And he told them that he also invited Brother Y to church and dinner next Sunday. He also told his family that they should be thankful they were attending Bible Believers Church, and not the one the neighbor used to attend.
“Well, what do you think will come of it?,” asked Mrs. Z. “I really don’t know”, Brother Z said. No doubt his former church has some serious problems. But he reminds me of the man that attended our church in Ohio. Do you remember him, dear? It was impossible to keep him happy. In fact, I sometimes wondered if we even went to the same church. No church is perfect, but perhaps they both need an attitude adjustment. Some see everyone else’s faults, but not their own.”
With that, Brother Z went to the phone and called Brother X. “Brother X, this is Brother Z. I just had to call you. I invited my neighbor to attend church with us next Sunday, like the pastor told us to do. Well, to make a long story short, I sure got an earful from an angry man who quit his church due to its problems. Anyway, after hearing about his former church, I had to call you and thank you for inviting us to attend Bible Believers Church. Just think, we could have ended up at our neighbor’s former church. What a bummer that would have been! Like I said, thanks for inviting us to your church! Gotta go for now.” And then the men hung up their phones.
The lesson in this story is obvious. We all have the potential to be either positive persons like Brother X and Brother Z, or negative persons like Brother Y. It all depends on choices we make. We choose to be either a faultfinder, or positive. What have you chosen to be?