I have just returned home from our morning service at church, and I really do not know whether to laugh or cry. I have no problem that the text for the sermon was Acts 11 vv 19 – 26, the story of the Jerusalem church sending Barnabas to Antioch, and Barnabas collecting Saul from Tarsus to bring him to Antioch to help teach the new believers there.
I think it is good to teach the church members to encourage one another. The story of Barnabas and Saul teaching the church in Antioch is a story of encouragement. Can you imagine what you would feel if someone who had been a witness at the start of the persecution of the Church was coming to teach you about belief. That was Saul. No doubt Saul needed encouragement from Barnabas to go to Antioch to help this new church and no doubt the church in Antioch needed Barnabas to encourage them to let Saul meet them.
The minister then went on to talk about using a programme called “Leading Your Church into Growth” and suggested that we all need to invite new people to come to church. All very praiseworthy.
Except for the “joke” he used to begin his sermon. The old chestnut about a woman who tells her husband that she always carries his picture with her and looks at it if she meets any problems because looking at his picture makes the problems seem insignificant. Husband thanks wife and asks her why looking at the photograph makes the problems seem less problematical. She replies, compared to you, all my other problems are insignificant. This minister is the man whose wife bragged in front of him that she does not submit to her husband. If this is his attitude, then all I can say is “No wonder!”
I did not say anything about this to the minister after the service because I knew that we were going to go into our church’s AGM, and I did not want to have anyone feeling a little hot under the collar.
I did think of Brian, whom I mentioned before and how he would have felt had he been there. I thought of Simon, another friend whose wife at one stage in the past refused him sex for a period of fourteen months – relenting only when he decided to leave her – and how he would have felt there. I looked around at the congregation and noticed that men were even thinner on the ground than normal, and wondered, “Why?”
Then I asked myself why should I continue in this church. The answer is for the housegroup. We hear less and less in housegroup how this or that book has never been preached on in church. When we decide to study a book, we go through the book, chapter by chapter, and we do not miss out the difficult passages. Sometimes we take two or more weeks to study a passage that the study guide we use suggests we could deal with in one session, but the folks who are there know that their views are valued by the whole group as we struggle to examine how we put biblical teaching into practice.
The question that I need to answer is whether God has called me to remain in that fellowship although the reason for attending that church initially, because my younger daughter wanted to attend and after prayer with my wife we both believed that we were called to go to the fellowship where our children would want to attend.