By Matt Redmond
They are tearing my old high school down. A few of my friends decided to drive by the old building to grab a brick or some other object to remember the place by. I didn’t have any desire to do this—until I did. So I went and walked through the old buildings. My souvenirs were the clocks. When my son asked why I was taking the clocks, I explained that I gave them most of my attention while I was in school.
I cannot remember enjoying one day of high school. I was a skinny kid who made bad grades and loved poetry. Not a recipe for cool in Birmingham city schools in the ‘80s. A friend once asked me why high school was such a terrible experience for me, and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize the problem was internal.
I wanted so badly to be accepted, and I always felt so discouraged in this desire in my school. Except when I was at church. Among the kids in my youth group, I almost always felt accepted. Sure, some of my insecurity crept in even there. But for the most part, I felt constantly encouraged and built up. This is how it should be.
When Paul writes to the Christians in Thessalonica facing various afflictions and persecution, he urges them with this: “Encourage one another and build one another up.”
It seems like everywhere I go, discouragement and criticism is the order of the day. You can say the wrong thing or have the wrong sort of friends, and those who previously welcomed you cast you aside. It reminds me more of my high school experiences than what Paul calls us to in Thessalonians—always worrying about the consequences of saying, doing, and wearing the wrong thing.
So many Christians walk around discouraged. But if the gospel is true—and it is—then we have so much to encourage one another in. We are eternally secure. We have forgiveness, given to us by the conquering King (Colossians 1:14). He defeated the real enemy of sin and death (1Corinthians 15:26). We are citizens of His unshakable kingdom (Hebrews 12:28). We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). These truths are just some of what we should encourage and build up our brothers and sisters in Christ with.