Thursday, 31 May 2012

The small miracle of prime rib and broccoli

God is usually gentle with me. A nudge, a reminder, a word, and I listen. Occasionally, however, He needs to grab me by the shoulder, look me in the eye and say, "What the heck are you thinking?" There are times I need to go to the woodshed.

I had one of these times in my early twenties that I've never forgotten.

The church I grew up in did "church" really well, but it wasn't a place where a personal relationship with Christ was encouraged. I found this relationship at seventeen, and it rocked my world. I wanted to share it with everyone, sometimes with more enthusiasm than wisdom.

When I heard a family singing group was coming to our church, I wanted to crawl under the pew and stay there. There were seven of them--Dad, Mom and five kids. They were sincere in their love for the Lord, but they were hokey. Embarrassingly, cringingly awful.

They not only sang, but illustrated their music with Bible vingettes, complete with "costumes", which consisted of bathrobes worn over their suits. The tie showed--who ever heard of a prophet with a tie?  I sweated and grumbled and squirmed through the entire evening.

Then the incredible occured. My father, who had gone to church all his life but never made it personal, commited his heart to Jesus

Because of the influence of this ridiculous family group. Ouch.

God looked me in the eye (which was difficult, because I was hanging my head) and said, "Daughter, do you hear Me?" I heard.

Romans 14 talks about accepting believers when they (horror of horrors) aren't the same as me. God, through Paul, doesn't mince words.

"Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with--even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently." Rom. 14:1

Paul focuses on one issue- food. What a Christian should eat was a big deal back then. It was also a source of contention in the church. Believers were snubbing other Christians because of their convictions about a correct diet.

Crazy, huh?

No. Because this can be applied to any issue that separates believers. Bad habits, immaturity, cultural differences. Extreme geekiness.

"What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to--all the way from life to death and everything in between--not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other." Rom. 14:6-9 The Message

"The petty tyrannies of each other..." Pretty pointed stuff, Paul. He goes on.

"Eventually we're all going to end end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgement, facing God. Your critical and condscending ways aren't going to improve your positioon there one bit....So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God." Rom. 14: 10,12 The Message

So whether it's broccoli or prime rib or bathrobes with ties, God made us all different and can use us at any stage of our walk toward Him. He calls us to celebrate our differences, not disdane them. His commision is  to help each other along the road, not criticise. To love, above all.

Because tomorrow, He just may use an unlikely saint in a suit and bathrobe to touch your life.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your wisdom, Ann. I, too, have been 'turned off' by the 'unusual' attitudes of others both within the church and outside it. When I first witnessed an event like you wrote about here, I assumed it was merely an anomaly. As I matured I started to notice this happening more often.

    Then I married a man whose family is 'unusual'. I learned to ask, "Will this make a difference 5 years from now?" Almost every time the answer is, "No!" My opinion is just that, my opinion. It could be right, it could be wrong, or it could be irrelevant!

    Thank you for including Paul's words from Romans 14. you can knit, I'll crochet!