Recall I had signed my wife and I up for a marriage conference a few weeks back. My research uncovered nothing so polarizing about the conference leaders that I felt repelled like an opposing magnet. Alas, the conference was canceled. Staying with my magnet theme, it wasn’t the polarity of the conference leaders, it was that the weather got very polar. So our pastor swerved his teaching temporarily to try and not leave the conference topics unaddressed.
Today our pastor was talking from Colossians 3:20. This, following lessons from verses 18 and 19 the previous two Sundays.
One of the things I like about our smallish church is that he normally teaches through books of the bible thoroughly, not pop-topically using one or two scriptures. Start to finish in logical chunks. Here, he interrupted a one year study of Romans to speak on family, touching Col.3 and Eph 5. expressly because the conference was cancelled. He doesn’t fancy himself a marriage expert or counselor.
I only had two red flag moments in the first two weeks. They ended up being false alarms, nothing of concern. I was ready with extra paper and sharp pencils to make sure I recorded all that was wrong with his teaching. When he noted at the end of week one, after teaching through Col 3:1-18, he said, “but we’ll see next week that we are to submit to one another”. Gotcha bub!
Not so much. He did not use it the following week to apologize for submission or to equivocate in any way. he was not harsh, militant, in the face, defensive, nervous, he did not self efface…not even once…when he offered the only example he used from his own marriage he did it perfectly, without agenda or apology describing how he and his wife differ on a certain thing and how they both can get it wrong because of their tendencies. Especially shocking was that he didn’t magnify his bad against her bad. He described bad, clinically as if he didn’t know the identity or gender of the perps. Outstanding.
To the point about the cords.
Today he was on verse 20 and 21, talking to parents about children. His point was that moral conformity is easier than a change of heart. Not in the sense that we CAN conform to the law. But we can improve our conformity. The heart change requires a miracle, and its not of our doing.
He told a story about his family going to the YMCA for a workout. His youngest girl was five years old or so. He is young so this is recent. When they stopped by the childcare place to pick her up they asked if she’d had a good time. She responded yes, but said some of the kids had gotten in trouble for playing with the power cords in the room. Her posture and expression said, “see dad and mom, I”m not like those kids who did that”. She had established a frame by which she could step up the ladder of moral conformity, and end up rung by rung, high above the rest.
Prior to the kid story he had spoken of a study done in 2005 of 3000 kids 12 to 18 years old where they were asked about their beliefs…their faith. The author listed five characteristics that the majority of the kids responding shared. I do not recall them one by one, but essentially it was that they should be nice, they should live a happy and good life, and that there is a god (little g) that made all of reality and that he will, if needed, intervene if they call on him.
He tossed in a quote from a Lutheran leader who was taking issue with the common observation that young people, 18-35, are “leaving the faith”. The Lutheran leader asked, “what does that mean? Because yes, they leave the church, they leave the things OF church done by their families perhaps, so they are leaving something. But they are not leaving the faith because [as the aforementioned study illustrates] they never had it to begin with.”
I ask now, in the context of the mega-themes that Christian men’s blogs general focus on, if you put the tale of the kids and cords, the results of the study mentioned, and the comment of the Lutheran leader and add the lack of accountability placed upon girls and women later in life when the sins are not about playing with electricity, put that all into a bowl that sits in a room whose atmosphere is comprised of 28% oxygen and 72% secular feminist miasma, mix it all up, does it not make batter for a cake of churchianity iced with pure solipsism topped with a little plastic Personal Jesus?
That made me feel like I was onto something. Then it hit me that the man preaching is 35. the young Christians I know who are in that age bracket, while getting on my Whole (Foods) Nerve, seem to be more settled in their marriages and family lives. Sure, there are less of them that proclaim Christ. But of those that do, they seem less agitated by talk of submission and loving as Christ the church, of simplicity and lowered drama. And more animated by life and home.
Is the tide turning among a chosen? Or is familial dysfunction just lessened while other more subtle things rob them of the things of God?