Ever since I can remember, there was a newspaper clipping that hung from the side of my family’s fridge. It was most visible if one was standing by the stove or using the cutting board. The title read “Some Parents Adopt The Attitude, My Child Right or Wrong, With Devastating Results.” The article continued to discuss how parents tend to guard their precious angels a little too closely. They cannot seem to see their child as being in the wrong. When a report card shows an “F” they march into the school and demand to know how the teacher is teaching the class and why Mrs. Whatever cannot seem to help their child learn. When their child is sent to detention for going against a school policy, they go in and fight the policy, defending their child’s behavior until the very end.
It can be easy to skip the part of the failing grade that means it is time to teach the child better study habits. It can be easier to demand the school change its policy than to admit that your child should change their behavior. And even if the teacher or the policy is in the wrong, or maybe it is the coach or the director or another parent, even if they are in the wrong maybe it would be a good lesson to teach your child, and yourself, how sometimes we have to compromise and work with a system that is flawed. We may not agree with the policy, but sometimes that is how life works.
Growing up with a father who was a high school math teacher and coach, my parents were definitely sensitive to the challenges and struggles that these types of jobs bring. They were very aware that sometimes the teacher is right and sometimes the teacher is wrong, but in most cases, the teacher is trying to be right and trying to do what is best for the students. Yelling, debating, and harsh criticisms are not going to help any.
I have no kids of my own. I have no idea what kind of parent I will be like. I do not know how it feels for my kid to come home from a day of school and to have them dislike a teacher, the school, the coach, another kid, or some kid’s parent. I am not sure how I will react when I feel like they have been dealt a bad hand, at no fault of their own.
I do know is how we react to our faith. Some people have adopted the attitude, my theology right or wrong, with devastating results.
The Bible has some hard and fast, black and white rules, but it also has a lot of gray. It seems that it is hard for a lot of us to cope with this gray area. Give us our “You Shall” or “You Shall Not” and no problem, but leave us to wrestle with what does church look like? Is worship singing all five verses of a hymn or a short but repetitive contemporary song? Is it going to service twice on Sundays or is it okay to skip once in a while? Can we go out to eat on Sunday or is us doing our dishes considered work too?
Divorce is never okay. Baptism must be infant baptism. The Lord’s Supper should always be for everybody. Creation was definitely 7, 24 hour days. No tattoos, not even Bible verses. Election and predestination are obviously wrong. (And I could continue with more controversial topics, but you can come up with those on your own 🙂 ) Did any of these statements get your blood boiling?
The questions go on and on. The list goes on and on. Christians fight, congregations separate, and the Church becomes divided. Is it worth it? Is being right worth it? Are we trying to be better Christians, spreading the faith, or are we just being devastatingly right? If we demand on being right all the time, I fear that we will deter others from building their faith, or even walking into our churches at all. No one likes a know it all.
I agree that we should have an opinion, a theology, a doctrine, that can help guide us through our faith walk. We should be sure of our faith and willing to defend our beliefs. I loved having theological discussions with my college classmates. We had a few close friends going through pre-seminary, and the rest of us were usually sitting through one mandatory Bible class or another. It was fun finding out the differences in our beliefs and going through the Bible and sharing verses to back it up.
When we did this, some of my childhood held beliefs changed, and then sometimes they changed back. Other times I grew more firm and I was able to discuss and argue in maturity. Sometimes tempers rose high, they often do when someone seems to attack a closely held belief, but we were usually able to calm down and agree to disagree.
Our main question, usually to help us calm back down, was “Is this a salvation issue?” Will singing a hymn get you into heaven while a contemporary song send you to hell? No? Okay then, lets agree to disagree. We all have our own personal tastes and our own personal faith walk.
Discussing faith, morals, values, and religion gets tricky sometimes, but if we never discuss it, in a mature and growing way, how will we ever learn what we truly believe? How will we ever learn to back up our faith with Bible knowledge and logical reasoning?
You will not always be right. You will not always be wrong. Sometimes you just might find yourself in the gray, and that is okay. God lives in the gray areas too.
The Way He Wants You To Live
12-13 And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
19-22 Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.
23-24 May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!
25-27 Friends, keep up your prayers for us. Greet all the followers of Jesus there with a holy embrace. And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out.
28 The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you!