Ponderings with Doug – April 19, 2019

Another parable for you to ponder:

“Brad and Sophie are, by most standards, good people. They do things as a family and they try to keep their kids involved in various activities. They are considering trading their SUV for a minivan, something Sophie said she would never do. They try their best to have dinner as a family when the kids’ schedules permit it, and when the family dinners actually happen, they always hold hands around the dinner table and say, “the blessing.”

On Facebook, a recent family photo by the flowered cross at church has more than one hundred likes and dozens of comments about their beautiful family. Brad and Sophie are in their mid-thirties and go to church once about every three months, because they are so busy. The extended family on Brad’s side has a beach house on the Gulf Coast and they try to get down there for the weekend whenever the weather is nice. It is also a real hassle to get the kids out the door on Sunday morning. (Miraculously, they can get everyone ready for school each morning, but nobody has ever brought that up.) When they are in town, they try hard to be at church because it means a lot to Papa and Nana, Sophie’s parents.

Papa is a third-generation member of the church and has taught in the same adult Sunday school classroom for thirty years. He sings in the choir every now and then but doesn’t like some of the new music they’ve been doing since the church hired the “new guy.” Papa serves on several committees in the church and never misses a Sunday. Nana’s entire social life revolves around the church, and she is always so thrilled to see the grandkids there so she can show them off to friends. She and the other ladies teaching children’s Sunday school tell they girls that they changed their mom’s diaper in the nursery when she was a baby.

Church is a “good thing” in this family’s life, especially for the kids, since it is a place where they learn good moral lessons. And when they finally do make it, they admittedly feel good about themselves—and it gives the kids a chance to wear their monogrammed “church clothes.” Being seen as a family that doesn’t take the kids to church would be embarrassing to Nana, and the passive-aggressive comments at family gatherings would be unbearable. Even when they lived in a different state, Nana would ask Sophie every Monday on the phone whether she “took my grandkids to church.” It drove Sophie crazy. Now, being back in the same town, she can’t even lie about their church attendance. Attending a different church than Nana and Papa’s in the same town would be worse than not attending at all.

Plus, the experience is comfortable. During the worship service, the new minister speaks for twenty minutes about loving others. Jesus is portrayed as a great example of this, since He helped the poor. The pastor doesn’t talk about sin, repentance, or the need for salvation, but the messages are inspiring.

After church, Brad, Sophie and the kids head to Nana and Papa’s for lunch, and the kids can’t wait to change into their regular clothes. Brad and Sophie have found they fight less if they occasionally give this four-hour sacrifice to Sophie’s parents, as it doesn’t seem to impact the rest of their normal day to day routine.”

A happy story, huh?

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