Hymn #222

Kim, the girls and I had the opportunity to visit a church of a different tradition than my daughters were accustomed to. They weren’t sure what to expect especially since they had to wear dresses at that church. After we arrived, they discovered that the building wasn’t that different from our church and that the people weren’t that different either but they didn’t quite understand why we were shuffled onto old wooden benches in the middle of the meeting space. Once the service started, however, things took a turn toward the weird in their little heads. An older gentleman in a suit and tie stood behind a small upright coffin and asked us all to stand. He then asked us to sing “Number 222”. Both my daughters looked at me and asked without using words, “What is that song? We don’t know Number 222!” Then an older lady started playing her instrument but it sounded like a scratchy synthesizer instead of a piano. At that point, someone handed the girls an old dog-eared hard cover book they didn’t know what to do with. I tried to give them the reassuring-father-nod, but that didn’t help at all once they witnessed the older gentleman waving his arms to the beat of the synthesizer. There was no recovering from that, their little minds were blown! My oldest daughter later admitted that she had to fight the temptation to wave back to the older gentleman behind the coffin. You see, nothing this church did was wrong. In fact, it was very appropriate for the culture of their congregation. However, their traditions and forms hindered those who didn’t know their customs or understand their language. Pauls says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” So today, be aware of the words you use and the traditions you enjoy when talking to people about Jesus. Make sure they understand the message you are conveying without allowing them to feel confused or uneducated.

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