Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let Me Point Out

Recently as I was scrolling down my Facebook home page, I found one of those articles that pops up again and again in your feed.  By Daniel Howell, the article was "Four ways to encourage your kids to leave the church."  I read it and snickered in agreement.

Before I was a blogger, I didn't read comments or leave them.  I know that this is a bad lurker habit. I just didn't realize how much that interaction could mean to the writer.  These days I'm a serial scroller.  Down I went.  

The comments were negative. I'm not talking about trolls or nasty internet stalkers. This was a more familiar kind.  The kind where the blogger says something that seems obvious and humorous to him but turns out to be misunderstood and deeply offensive to the readers. (I would be guilty of this all the time, if Melissa didn't read what I write before it goes up on the blog!) 

The point that received the most criticism was his insistence that kids need their parents to prioritize church attendance.  I just wrote a post about worship on the same theme.  However, we didn't catch any negative reaction.  Gawking at the angry comments I wondered why? There could be lots of reasons; he has more readers, his readers comment more often, his readers are less homogeneous. 

However when I went back and read our post from May, I immediately saw a difference.  Mr. Howell's article applied the principle of church attendance out into the real world of people's busy lives.  Folks don't like that.  My article simply told three stories of attending church, when I was a child, when we were on vacation, and what we do with our own kids now.  No messy application. 

There are good reasons we sometimes avoid criticizing others. Melissa, Jane and I are young(ish) and our children are little.  My 11-year old is the oldest.  Melissa's baby is two.  All the others are in the middle.  We're all married to Christians.  There are all kinds of tragedies that haven't touched our families.  With our limited experience, we try to stick to confession.  Rather than demand that you do better, we just share where we've done wrong.  

However, in a recent conversation Melissa asked me a difficult question.  She asked me how Jesus confronted sin in the lives of others and by extension how should we confront sin. 

I did not even want to think about this.  If I thought about it, I might have to change my current policy.  What policy?  Simple.  If you ask me, I'll tell you.  If you don't ask me, I'm going to figure it is none of my business.  I'll tell you what I do and encourage you every chance I get when I see you doing right.  But no way I am going to get up in your face about what you're doing wrong.  I figure you know. God knows.  You don't need me to point it out. 

It was "pointing it out," that caused the comment catastrophe over at Mr. Howell's blog.  It's the "pointing it out" that I don't want to do.

But maybe I should.  

When I dug into the gospels, it was immediately clear that Jesus did not go around beating sinners on the head with their sin.  If they recognized their sin, he was ready to forgive it.  Take the women caught in adultery or the woman who wept on his feet for example.  On the other hand, when someone hid their sin or was blind to it, Jesus had zero qualms about letting them know all about it.  The Pharisees received their own chapter full of woes and even the Samaritan woman at the well had her sin revealed by Jesus.  

I have often said that the sin I do not recognize is sin I cannot repent of.  That's true.  I'm afraid that I should have added that the sin you do not recognize is sin you can't repent of either. 

I often feel I am too young, too flawed, and too privileged to call anyone else out on their sin.  All of that is true.  I am also too cowardly.

Today, I'll be brave.  Let me join Mr. Howell for a moment.  Your kids need to be a part of your local church.  Don't allow anything to be prioritized above their relationship with God.  It's more important than soccer, homework, vacation, school, their schedule or yours.  The window of time where you have this kind of eternal influence is woefully short.  Don't neglect it.  The stakes are too high.  Bring them to worship God.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment