Ministry Of A Smile
During a sermon, the youth pastor asked the students “in two words, what would you say your identity is in school.” Some students replied with comedic answers like “dingle berry” but others took it more seriously and replied with “just average.” The sermon then went into talking about how our identity should be “Christ follower.” Although I agree, I think there is more to it. Sure, it is great to say that people recognize us by our faith, but I want people to recognize me by His love. Most non-believers are hesitant to enter a conversation with a believer because of the preconceptions they have about Christians. They put Christians in a box that I argue Christians in the past have caused. We are seen haughty, self-righteous, and unaccepting. In reality, we are called to be humble and compassionate. Maybe how people see us should be by our personality and not by our faith. In my life, that has allowed me to build relationships with several non-believers who are now my brothers and sisters in Christ. That did not happen by me shoving religion down their throats, it happened by me demonstrating the love of Christ to anyone and everyone. It all started with a smile.
After the youth pastor asked his question, my mind jumped back to high school days to remember what my identity was. I did not really hang out with a clique. I was a part of several diverse clubs. I was a high achieving academic student that also played sports. I did not really have an identity, or so I thought at the time. Let’s fast-forward to after I finished my last final of my high school career and just before graduation. My high school takes the graduating seniors on a trip. My class went up to a campground in northern California where we were able to do things like white water rafting and mountain biking.
On our last night, the teachers organized a Pinecone Ceremony, an annual senior ceremony where the class congregates to share their best memories or give praises to classmates while throwing a pinecone into the fire. Although I was not close to anybody in my class, I was blessed with several compliments about just being an authentically nice person. The compliment that surprised me the most is the one I still vividly remember today. Olivia and I were acquaintances and classmates, but we never really spoke. Olivia walked up to speak, and I thought nothing of it. Then she captured my attention when she said it was a praise to me. She said although we never really talked, she could always rely on seeing my smile. Every time I passed her, I smiled. There was no reason for it, it was just a smile. Then she went on to share that she was having a difficult final semester for a couple reasons, but my smile would always light her day.
A smile, a genuine smile, can be a very powerful tool. As Christians, we should have joy beyond understanding. When people see us, they should feel that joy radiating from us. It opens the door way to share how good God is and what He has done in our lives personally. For years, I was a kids camp counselor. Even when I was exhausted, I smiled. I was serving the Lord with kids that I absolutely adored. After three years of smiling each day to an elderly women who worked at the camp grounds, she pulled up to me on a golf cart one morning. I smiled at her as usual, but this time she said something. She told me that for the past several years that she has seen me, she has always seen me with a smile on my face. Rarely has she seen other counselors just walking about with a smile, let a lone one that she felt was genuine. Her only question was why and how. I then had the privilege of sharing my testimony with her.
A smile is a walking testimony. It is a walking ministry. A smile reaches people, especially in our individualistic society where looking away or pulling out a phone to circumvent conversation is a norm. With just a smile, I have shared the love of God. With a smile, I glorify God. I implore you to go about your day just contemplating how amazing the God we serve is. Naturally, you will notice that you will just involuntarily begin smiling.