“Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that he loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that he loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, and your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be?”
-Brennan Manning (fellow ragamuffin)
Yesterday a fellow track coach and I were discussing the biblical illiteracy of young people in our contemporary culture. This is an issue that I have read some about. The church has created terms like “unchurched generation” and “a post-Christian society” to describing this emerging trend in American culture. After the discussion I asked a handful of students some basic questions about the Bible to see just how biblically illiterate they are.
Me: “Can you name the gospels?”
Are you shocked?
I sure was.
Is this okay in the church? When are kids supposed to learn the Christian stories? Is biblical illiteracy a consequence of topical teaching/preaching? Are parents missing something at home? Do parents know the stories?
I’m left with more questions than answers.
“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”
Lord, please give us the eyes of Christ to see people as you do.
This past Sunday I ended up ranting/lecturing in front of my students. They, as they tend to do occasionally, decided that Sunday was the day to laugh and giggle during Sunday school and make fun of the other people (myself included) in the room .
I can recall a time when such fits would anger me because I had spent so much time preparing our time together. Didn’t they know how much time I had spent planning this time to teach? Why weren’t they listening to me? I had SO much wisdom to share with them. Didn’t they know how much better life would be if they sat still for a while? Shouldn’t they affirm me after the amazing job I was doing?
In essence I wondered, “Why aren’t these students recognizing and affirming my work…or me?” Pathetic. Trust me, I know. Praise the Lord for their sake and mine that I have matured beyond this point. But these were not the questions that were racing through my mind this past weekend.
I recently took a course at school titled “Pastoral Counseling.” Having been a psychology student during my undergraduate training it was enjoyable to reengage with “my roots” of formalized higher education.
The first day of class our professor posed us the following questions: “What would you think of a person if they came into your office, sat down, and confessed that they have a problem with physically abusing their daughter? What would go through your mind? How would you perceive them?”
“Disgusting. Criminal. Abhorrent.” These adjectives raced through my head and perhaps through yours as well.
Charles Ponzi was a brilliant man. What he would do, in essence, was entice investors by claiming to pay short-term returns that were either outrageously consistent or abnormally high (at least that’s what Wikipedia claims). He would then pay off these returns with the money of other investors. He never grew wealth. He never added to anyone’s wealth. He simply would shuffle money between his clients to make it appear as if their wealth was growing. This system of operating is now known as a “Ponzi Scheme.” It’s the same operation Bernie Madoff is currently imprisoned for having run (that’s the second Wikipedia page linked in this post…man, I love that site).
Yesterday, I had a lady who recently left our church come in and visit. She went on to tell me that it is amazing to see what God is doing in the city of Long Beach. When I inquired what God was doing in his church she told me that a local congregation just received 60 new congregants into membership. Now, I don’t want to be a negative nancy, but I will be here for a minute. I know for a fact that a handful of those new members are former members of my own congregation. They left the community I’m apart of and joined another. Now before you think I’m writing this blog post out of bitterness toward that congregation, the woman in my office, or those who left my congregation let me say that I am not. (At least I hope I’m not.) Recently my own congregation praised God for bringing a couple of new families into membership (that had recently left another church in the local area).
“Thou has made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”