With my oldest writing her first essay I cannot help but to be brought back to my own first essay in 8th grade. My English teacher really pushed us hard. I can still recall her exclaiming that American students arenít what they used to be. She often talked about us falling behind the rest of the world, especially Japan. Then, Monday night, I talked to my brother, who despite being a part of the denominational world, has become much more religious than he had been in years past. (In fact, I donít ever think he was very religious when we were growing up). He was talking about how every Saturday night he gets together in groups to study Godís word with different members of the church of God. These bible studies have been influential in helping him to grow. They are done in various homes (not sure if he has hosted). The point is to have fellowship, real fellowship not just talking a meal together, for the purpose of growing their faith. The church, much like our own, is small town church seeking to grow. It has no visions of grandeur of being a major metropolitan congregation. And to be honest, I felt a little jealousy and guilt setting in.
I understand that we are rather spread out here in Grinnell. I get that we are a great deal more spread out than where my brother worships. However, I think we permit that excuse to handcuff our congregation. (Before I move forward with this article, let me state that I greatly appreciate the time and effort the ladies have put in to their own bible studies. Several years ago they kicked off this work with a weekend retreat and have been great about getting together once a month to study a large variety of subjects). As a whole, we arenít studying the bible much together. Wednesday nights have a much smaller attendance than that of Sunday morning services. Even Sunday morning bible classes are smaller than that of Sunday morning worship hour. Even when the church sets a time to study together in an official capacity we just donít have great attendance. And this doesnít even bring in the fact we donít have a menís bible study because our attendance that was down to one when we finally discontinued it. Nor does it take into account the afternoon bible studies that we discontinued do to a lack of interest.
It seems to me that we just donít have that same passion as other churches to get together and study. There is always something that keeps us from it. More often than not it is a lack of time. (I get driving long distances is hard). If it was just that it would be one thing. But, we offer up extracurricular activities as the reasons why we cannot do something. We have children activities, family activities, and personal activities. Think about it like this, we all will stand before God someday. Are we ready to explain to him that the reason we didnít go to bible class or grow real relationships with his fellow saints is that we were too busy watching football? Will we have to stand before God being judged for how well our child throws a fastball? Does God really care whether or not we can run a mile in 6 minutes are 12 minutes?
Brethren, maybe we are falling behind. Maybe we are learning less and less about the word of God because we arenít making the time to learn more about it. Now, I understand that what you do in your home is something that is between you and God. But, even Solomon stated iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17). It is hard to sharpen each other if we arenít with each other. Perhaps it is time to reset our priorities. I mean how often have we taught our children to get the school work done before playing? I know that athletics in school are conditional upon students passing their classes. So, why is it we can understand this truth when it comes to secular education, but fail to apply it to our spiritual education?
Let us go back to that original illustration. I was very upset that our English teacher kept telling us that we were falling behind. I hated hearing it week in and week out. But, was she wrong? No. No, she was right. We as a nation were falling behind. As Paul said, ďHave I then become your enemy by telling you the truth (Gal. 4:16)? For many in my class (myself included at the time) vilified her. I mean, how dare she tell us that we werenít good enough. Sadly, this is the way we as Christians often behave. How dare anyone call us out on our weaknesses. How dare anyone suggestion that we are anything than less than perfect. How dare anyone actually inspire us to better ourselves. How dare they indeed.
My friends, I hope this year is that we grow closer to God, that we grow closer to each other, that we bring more souls unto God. This cannot and will not happen unless we stop thinking that showing up and partaking of the Lordís Supper somehow completes our Christian duty for the week.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Are We Falling Behind?
Volume 8 Issue 7