I had a funny conversation with the owner of a local restaurant one day. The restaurant was close to our office, so I was there pretty frequently. I usually ran in and grabbed the quickest thing I could and ran out. Well, I was at the cash register and there were two or three others waiting to pay when Tony, the owner, said, “What do you do anyway?” Well, I wanted an opportunity there, and I thought this might be the first chance I had to really let him know that I know Christ.
On the spur of the moment I gave him what I thought was a creative answer that might get him thinking a little bit. I said, “Oh, I’m a manufacturer’s representative.” He said, “What?” “Well, you probably want to know what manufacturer.” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “The manufacturer of you and me.” He said, “Oh, you work for my mother?” I said, “No, no, no. I work for the person who manufactured your mother, and the mother before her, and her mother before her.” I know this is an odd conversation. He said, “That’s funny! You don’t look Italian.”
Well, we went around on this merry-go-round a couple of times, and finally I said, “Actually, I lead a Christian organization that works with young people and their families.” He said, “Oh, you’re one of those born again things?” I said, “Well, it depends on what you mean by that. If you mean a cult with people who have antennas, do I have any antenna? No.” I said, “Do you know who said those words first?” He said, “No.” I said, “You know, Jesus said those words first. He invented that whole idea. It’s referred to in the Bible, and it actually refers to a brand new start that He can give you when you come to Him after being what he called “born again.”
Then he looked at me, and I was actually caught up short by his next comment. He explained why he had these questions about my life in the first place. He simply said, “All I know is that you’re happy all the time.” I thought, “Man, we are being watched.” And you know, it’s something pretty simple that can start something pretty eternal.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Great Door Opener.”
Our word for today from the Word of God, we’re in the book of Nehemiah. He’s a servant. Actually, he’s a cupbearer or waiter as it were to the king. And in chapter 2 and verse 1, he says, “I had not been sad in the kings’ presence, so the king asked me, ‘Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This could be nothing but sadness of heart.'” Of course we know Nehemiah was very sad because he wanted to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, his home city.
“‘I was very much afraid,’ Nehemiah said, ‘But I said to the king, “May the king live forever. Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruin?’ The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king.” Well, from that point on, he shares his dream, the king supports it, and the rest… well, it’s the miraculous history of the rebuilding of the walls and the gates of the city of Jerusalem.
Notice here the king says, “How come you’re sad today?” So, apparently Nehemiah had a reputation for being a pretty happy camper at work. Do you? See, for Nehemiah, a bad mood at work must have been the exception. Is that how it is for you?
If you’ve ever been to an antique store, you know that something becomes more valuable as it becomes harder to find. Well, today, a smile is precious because it’s getting hard to find. So much so that it eventually demands an explanation, “Hey, what kind of work do you do?” The restaurant owner asked me that. He said, “I guess the reason you’re happy all the time is you enjoy your work.” I said, “No, it’s because I enjoy my relationship with Him. He’s the reason.”
What attracted him, he said, was happiness. Let’s consider your usual attitude at work or at school. Is it kind of dark, complaining, kind of a dull let’s-get-through-it attitude? Or do you carry the presence of Christ into your school or your workplace? Your greatest attention getter for Christ may be that you have a smile in a sea of sour. A Christian draws his joy, not from what’s going on around him, but who Jesus is going on inside him. Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
You might be wondering how to get an open door to the people around you. You might prove that Jesus works by your smile, your consistent joy, your positive spirit. Those may be the greatest door openers in the world.