My Thoughts . . .
There is a song which was written by Patricia J. Owens in 1883 titled, “Give me the Bible.” The Refrain is,
“Give me the Bible–holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, ‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.”
Although the song was used by children, adults sung it too. When I grew up, just about every home possessed a Bible. Going to Sunday School for children was required by parents who might not attend themselves. You did not mow your lawn on Sunday unless you wanted to receive a critical eye from the neighbors. Movies did not have a single swear word in them. Life changes though. One movie was condemned because it had one curse word in it. I was not allowed to hear Clark Gable in “Gone With The Wind” say that one specific word until I was in college and 20 years old. That movie is now rated “G.” In the 60’s things began to change slowly but continued to pick up speed as the years rolled by.
In a recent report it stated that 43% of Millennials do not know, do not care, nor do not believe God exists. Millennials are those individual between the ages of 25 to 41. The Church of Scotland General Assembly recently considered a proposal to remove the expression “husband and wife” from their official marriage ceremony. This allows the minister to join two men or two women together in marriage. The individuals decide for themselves who would be the male or the female in their relationship.
Why does society seem to be moving away from the church and the teachings it provides? Part of the reason is the church itself. N.B. Hardeman once told a Graduate School audience in 1962 that each congregation was in one of three positions. 1) The church was going into a problem, 2) The church was in the middle of a problem, or 3) The church was coming out of a problem. I have worked with some great congregations over the past 61 years. Most of those that I worked with part or full-time had their mountain peaks as well as valleys. Human imperfection causes the valleys despite the beauty of the surrounding peaks. Problems have moved some closer together while driving others apart. Despite being in that group which scripture calls “the saved,” we can disguise our Christianity quite well. The problem is that non-believers see our dead-beat periods. Our “light” burns out the good relationships rather than attracting people due to our love. The divisions in Christianity are not very appealing. Instead of projecting the peace of heaven, others sometimes witness the horrors of hell.
Some depart from the church due to their misunderstanding of Christianity. They believe the Christian life will removes all the negatives and replace them with the smoothest highway which one may spiritually travel. Sometimes even the sweetness of life can take a turn for the worst, leaving a wake of sourness behind. Christians in the first century faced beatings, chains, imprisonment, criticism, loss of work, persecution from friends and neighbors, backbiting from fellow saints, disappointment, and even death. Not everyone in society wants to go to heaven, and such individuals believe they are doing you a favor by taking you off that narrow highway. “Eat, drink, and be merry” is their gospel and they are willing and enthusiastic in sharing it with you (Luke 12:19).
Gigantic buildings will not convert the non-believer. When Paul used a non-believer to illustrate a point to the Corinthians, the outsider was not impressed with two songs and a prayer. However, what he saw in the members cause him to fall “on his face” and “worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25). He understood the Corinthian’s faith. What do unbelievers see in us and the assembly we attempt to get them to visit?
“Give me the Bible—holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining, ‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.”
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