Being largely introverted I find visitation something that is not always easy and can at times become awkward.
That being said, there are great benefits to participating in visitation. This is not a full list but a few that I have found as one who visits others frequently.
First, visitation is a way to get to know other people and allow them to get to know you. I’m not talking about going to someone’s house for 3 minutes, standing at the front door and saying “Hi I’m Phillip, you want to get to know me?” Of course not. I’m also not saying go into someone’s home and sit for an hour to discuss the theological implications of a virgin birth, and a vicarious suffering and death. What I am saying is, just go out with someone, or invite someone to your home, or see if someone would mind you stopping by for about 30 minutes, just to chat about ‘whatever.’ You will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the person you are sitting with, is a lot like you. And who knows, it might be the start of a fast, and long-lasting friendship.
Second, visiting others encourages both parties. When you visit someone, it has been my experience that the person is more receptive the next time to visit again. The reason is that just like you, they enjoyed the visit. They found out that you are a lot like them, and given time and opportunity, you might even make a new friend for them to ‘hang out’ with. Encouragement is always important to Christians. We live in a world that is full of venom, and anger. We live in a world that has taken God out of their lives, and Christians suffer because of it. We all need encouragement and visiting with people of ‘like precious faith’ brings encouragement to both parties.
Third, visiting others allows our Lord an opportunity to reach into the lives of someone else, through us. Sometimes visiting a person when they are in a state of need, or a state of discouragement, will cause them to be thankful to God, that you came to show the love of Christ in action, to give them help, or strength, or a listening ear. Whatever the need may be, when we go out and visit someone, doing so allows our Lord to reach into the hearts and lives of others, and shows the love of Christ to them.
There are plenty of other benefits that we could list. But I want to ask why? Why are so many of us, in the Lord’s church not more active in visiting our brothers and sisters?
Time: One reason is that in this busy world, there doesn’t seem to be enough time. The fact is, time is a vacuum. If you ‘save’ a few minutes on one thing, you will spend those minutes on something else. Email was supposed to ‘save us time’ but guess what, all the time it saved, we put to some other endeavor. Here is a truth. We all have the same amount of time in a day. And, we are pretty much all equally busy. You make time for what is important in life, and the things that are not important, you do not make time for. In the end analysis, it may be that we do not visit because we do not think it is important. I hope we will see the importance of visiting others, and that we can make a little time for it each month.
Fear: One legitimate thought is the ‘fear’ of visitation. No one thinks that their brother or sister is going to physically harm them. They simply fear the unknown. They don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to do. The cure for fear is action. Just do it! Go out with someone, invite someone over… and then, just be you. If you like hunting and fishing, talk about it. If you like painting, and sculpture, talk about it. Be real, be you, and most of all, be kind. It is not hard, you don’t have to be mean, or disagreeable. I’ve been to people’s homes, who have said something that I didn’t agree with… I wasn’t mean, I didn’t stop and correct them, I just filed it away, as something that could be addressed later. Just be yourself, and be kind.
No Desire: Some of us think that Jesus, or God, or the Holy Spirit will somehow motivate us, in some supernatural, metaphysical way. Or we might believe that the Holy Spirit will just give people encouragement, in a personal, literal, spiritist-way. But that is not the case. When Jesus left this Earth, the Holy Spirit gave us His word, and by His word, all men will be reached. But they will be reached by us. “Jesus has no hands but our hands,” says the song… and the sentiment is true. If others will be encouraged, strengthened, - if their burdens are to be lightened, while it is true, that God’s word read and applied, does help, it is us, his people who are instructed to reach out, to encourage and to bear one another’s burdens. (see Phil. 2:4; Rom. 12:13; Gal. 6:2)
So what are we waiting for, pick up the phone, send a text... reach out to someone, visit and encourage them.