Monday, August 18, 2014

Searching for freedom? Let's talk...(3)

It's Monday, a good day to take seriously, what you might have learned yesterday, had you been in a place where they talk about the Lord and the meaning He should have in your life.

I was in such a place yesterday - my church, and the lessons started with a study of the "here after" - as one fellow suggested, it was what we were there after.  And our teacher came prepared to offer a variety of opinions as to what happens as our mortal bodies expire.  I hate the word - die.  Every time I have seen, either someone or something experience death, he or she or it was soon forgotten and typically, completely ignored.  The fascination is usually centered on what happens thereafter and although there were profound responses in our class, there were no definitive answers as no one knows - for sure! What we do know is what some want to believe can be found in the Bible.  We tend to except what it says, by faith.

We left the study - encouraged.  That was my understanding, but then, I believe that everything that we do - in the name of the Lord, should be encouraging.

The Pastor, not "our" Pastor as ours was travelling elsewhere, offered a sermon from the scriptures which he suggested was confirmed by a lesson he learned as a youngster on the farm, learning how to cultivate "row" crops.  He was on a tractor and after veering off course a couple of times, he started paying closer attention to where the tractor wheels were taking him.  His "wise" instructor would advice him that a better course of action was to look "up and out".  As you fix your eyes on a goal, in his case, getting the job done without destroying what he was supposed to protect from the weeds, you get a much better prospective of the tasks at hand. 

It was a wise observation, in my belief system.  A lesson that it took me years to comprehend.  As a farm boy, I had had similar experiences. but as soon as I got "book" learning, I soon began to ignore what should have been obvious.  My observation of life is that many of us make the same mistakes.

Some like to call the "end of each row" (while cultivating crops) a goal to be achieved and that is easy to understand as a farm boy due the repetitive nature of the job.  The Pastor had a better response for those of us who are far away from working on a farm and it came from the lesson he had learned that day.  "Keep your eyes up and out".  "See where you are going" was an encouragement I once had to offer while teaching a youngster to drive.  The Apostle Paul offered similar advice.  "I press on toward the goal for the prize of  the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 3:14)

That is what church is all about - or, at least, what it ought to be all about, in my opinion.  Daily life is a challenge, even if you are rich and famous.  I will never forget a prominent man I knew as a customer who prided himself as a "believer" who counselled me that he worked as hard as he did because it was it was too easy to forget where one is going and wind up in the "poor" house.  He had - as my Pastor friend had suggested, his eyes "up and out".

One of my criticisms of the church stems from the fact that some know it to be, a social gathering.  It ought to be that and more, much more.  The businessman I just mentioned was being paid hundreds of dollars just to speak in public, to talk about "wisdom" that is everywhere to be found in the Bible.  One ought not to come to church just for socializing. but perhaps also for such wisdom - for free!

We have churches because we have belief systems and the Christian church is there to teach us more about our belief system.  We learn about the fundamentals of the faith so that we might share them with our extended families, our friends, our neighbors, the people we have come to know.  We learn that the proper way to live the Christian life is to let what you have learned, flow out of the way that you live, today, tomorrow and all of the days of your life; whenever, wherever, you happen to be.

You don't practice to be a Christian, you either are or you are not and you do not have to prove yourself.  As a Professor in college once told me that "what you learn in my classes may last you for an hour, a day, a week, or even a year, but if your life has not been changed, I have wasted your time and my own."  It would be nice if all Professors believed as she did, but nice is a word, that if you change but one letter, you could have niece.   Actually, to have one of those, you need an aunt or an uncle.

For most persons, that might not make sense, but neither does just being a a Christian.  Some call it a religion, but Jesus did not come to create a religious belief.  He came to provide an understanding of life as it is, not what had been offered in the blood of bulls and goats.

To understand what Christians believe, you ought to be in a church and to see for yourself, that it is a place for you to come and learn to comprehend answers to questions you may have been afraid to ask. And if they are not available, try another church.  I would suggest that you come to the one in which I hold membership as I have been around churches for most of my life and the one I attend is one of the best I have ever experienced in learning, not just how to grow as a Christian, but to actually be a Christian.  There is a difference.  Come and see for yourself.

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