Back to Sunday School

Hebrews 6:1-12
I once asked someone to attend a new Bible study we were starting. Our church had wanted to make room for a new group of people to connect on Sunday mornings. When I asked this one saint, his response caught me off guard. I’m used to people telling me about their busy schedules. It’s hard to get the kids up that early. My favorite is, “Really, Pastor, Sunday is my day.”

Okay, Lord of the Sabbath.

Why didn’t this church member want to take the chance to learn the Bible? Simple. “I did Sunday School when I was younger,” he said. It wasn’t that he thought Sunday School was just for kids. I’ve heard that before. In his mind, he already graduated.

Time didn’t allow for us to go too much further in our conversation. I’d love to know what he thought Sunday School was. Did he think there was one Sunday School program to rule them all? That every time a class got together, they were reading and learning the same thing?

I don’t recall what the new class was going to focus on learning. Jesus, probably. My impression, though, was if it wasn’t the NFL, he wouldn’t be there.

Now, I do want to use that example in another way. What if he had been looking for a new group to join? Could it be, if he thought Sunday School was all the same review of Bible basics, that didn’t intrigue him because he had a firm grasp of such concepts?

If so, I wouldn’t blame him. Not every opportunity is for everyone.

I’m not sure I want to say that we’re too focused on the basics. But I do want to reflect on something we read in Hebrews 6.

The writer of Hebrews is seeking to encourage a group of Christians from falling away. In chapter 6, that includes the call to “go on toward perfection.” We do that by “leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ.” That sounds strange. Why would we want to move on from basic teachings about Jesus?

For the Hebrews audience, there seems to have been an emphasis on how Jesus connected to Judaism. For the congregation to move forward, they were going to need to look beyond that basic material. They didn’t need to forget it or lose it or even neglect it. But it was time to grow. Being in Christ meant so much more than they realized. Letting their faith mature would be part of the encouragement they needed. 

It’s like Math.

No, we may never need all we learned about advanced math, for example. But the processes we learn in mathematics help us learn to learn. We might not know what we could learn if we stuck with one plus one.

How God will encourage us won’t be obvious until we set out on an intentional walk with the Lord. We have a lifetime to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus. But there needs to be a willingness to grow. There are always new levels of understanding and faithfulness. So, join a new Sunday School class or read a book. Whatever you do, keep growing!

Stay blessed…john

Sex and divorce

1 Corinthians 7:10-16
The world doesn’t always offer healthy perspectives about sex. And Christianity hasn’t always nurtured a healthy understanding of it either.

Early on, Christians discouraged the practice. Some of that related to their anticipation of Jesus returning soon. Why mess around and have children if everything was coming to an end?

Well, Jesus didn’t return.

Later, the church enforced restrictions surrounding when and how sex was appropriate. Yea, imagine your priest checking in on that department. Compare that to a 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll. It indicated that a mere 11 percent of millennials seek information about sex from a religious leader. That to say, we aren’t the first people to get weird when it comes to the subject. All the sex talk in the Bible confirms, too, that sex has been a mixed topic for a long time. Why are there ordinances and stories that involve the misuse of sex? Because we’ve always wrestled with how to approach the matter.

It seems the Corinthian Christians had their struggles, too.

Apparently, some of them thought it was best to forgo sex altogether. They may have sought to remain pure and wanted to avoid the temptations around them. The matter troubled them so much they had written to Paul to ask his advice. It’s in that context that the apostle offers his advice about divorce.

I take Paul’s statements to mean that some Christians, in their pursuit of holiness, thought it would be best to divorce. They wanted to remain faithful to their understanding of holiness. So, that meant avoiding sex. Outside of marriage, of course. But also divorcing their spouse to do so.

While there were some, like Paul, who had the gift of celibacy, he encouraged spouses to stay married. Even if your spouse was not a believer, divorce would cause unnecessary chaos. Let the overzealous believer take that into consideration. You can’t be pure by separating what God has brought together.

Now, we should be careful about putting a blanket ban on divorce. if only for the fact that too many people have used that as an excuse to endure abuse and violence within a marriage.

Besides that, Paul’s advice is pretty straightforward. 

What I appreciate about this whole conversation is the pursuit of holiness. The question is, Can we take it too far? If our ideals fracture the good God has given us, apparently so.

Our pursuit of holiness often disrupts different parts of our lives. We were living one way. Now, we’re living another. Our sanctification helps put into perspective what our lives should be in light of God’s goodness. We learn how much we didn’t know and understand before.

After a few years of staying married, did some of the Corinthian Christians laugh at themselves for thinking divorce might honor God?

Sex and marriage are just two things we have to be willing to make godly decisions about because they are a part of life. Two big parts of life, of course. Our faith informs the decisions we make about those things. Still, we need not twist them into anything else. They’re gifts from God.

And it seems, when it comes to our relationships and well-being, peace is the high calling.

Stay blessed…john

E29 Should “Christian” Mean “Family Friendly”

Movie night for youth group has always been too complicated an issue.

For the most part, if it’s totally appropriate it’s boring. If it’s engaging, there’s too many fast-forward moments to remember.

Then we’ll just watch Shrek.

Of course, the issue is a little more nuanced than that. But it does bring up a good question: Should Christian content always be family friendly?

What does family friendly even mean? For that matter, what does Christian mean?

That’s what we’re talking about in this week’s podcast.

Stay blessed…john