Sunday, May 20, 2007

Changing Church Part XXI

“I have a question my family came across this week,” began a middle-aged businessman whose wife worked at a bank and left their daughter and son at daycare during the week. “We’re very busy and this hour is the only one we can make during the week here at church. We count on it being a time for our kids to learn Bible stories. What are we supposed to do?”

Will refused either to stand on man’s opinion or to back away when he knew what the Bible said. After all, as Paul wrote, whom was he trying to please? “God doesn’t leave room for excuses. First, He has given the responsibility of children’s spiritual training to parents, not Sunday school teachers. Second, perhaps you might look at what things are keeping you from fellowship with God’s people and ask whether they are the priorities God would have you embrace. Anne and I have agreed that we will teach our children the Bible at home, as well as expecting them to pay attention in church as soon as they are able.

“If we teach kids that church and God are an hour on Sundays, we’re failing them. They won’t see the point. I don’t see the point. Jesus died to redeem our whole lives, to give us life. We owe Him. We owe each other. Owe no man anything but to love one another.”

The man and his wife were clearly offended. Will watched them steadily, unwilling to give the impression that he was ashamed of the truths he had spoken.

A young man still in college tried to ease the tension by speaking himself. “I have a question. In classes where there is a lot of discussion at school, there tend to be times when everything breaks down into debate or argument. How do we prevent that?”

Anne marveled at the real questions being asked. The young man was sincere. No one was challenging the format. They were curious. Will was gathering his thoughts to move on from his last answer. A deacon stood up before he could begin. “Love. Are we not commanded to love? Let our words be gracious? If we really want to know and practice the truth, and for others’ sakes want them to do the same, that should guard at least the atmosphere of debate.” His wife gave him a go-ahead look. “We have been struggling with that in our home. We like to complain about how things are done: at church, at work, to each other at home. Discussion needs to happen for things to change. This week, we decided to try Pastor Will’s recommendation and do family devotions. My wife, Bette, suggested we spend a week on 1 Corinthians 13. It has been awesome. Let me read it. ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…’ “ He read the whole chapter. Then he continued, “We have by no means arrived, but Bette and I and our family have committed to transforming our attitudes. The motives behind what we speak must demonstrably be love. Love defined like this. Seeks not her own. Is not rude. Things like that.”

“Our family as well,” a young dad continued. “Except we were studying Philippians. Chapter 2 just says it, about how we’re supposed to do everything selflessly, like Jesus did. There’s no complaining then, or grumbling. And then we shine as lights in this world. No one argues this world needs light.”

Will sat back in his seat and borrowed Anne’s pen. He wrote out a one-word note to her. “Wow.” Their heads turned in sync, watching the testimonies and instruction.

To God be all glory.

See the index for first and additional chapters.

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