As I return home from visiting my sister, I have time to reflect on my life as it is now. The most important things in my life are that Christ as my Savior and redeemer and my relationship with Him. But I wonder if others see what I say is true, or if I am doing what I do for the right reasons. Am I putting aside myself for the eternal situation of others and for the glory of Christ? Or am I as the Pharisees, doing what I do only out of legalistic beliefs? Or am I as I should be, doing what I do out of obedience and a desire to please God?
As my sister and brother-in-law were describing their and their friends’ involvement in their church, it became more obvious (although I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks) to me the different between my friends in Oshkosh and those I’m getting to know here.
In Oshkosh, all my friends were involved in the church somehow, and most with the youth: youth pastor (and elder, among other responsibilities), junior high youth leaders, high school youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, sound booth workers, to name a few. In Nashville, one that I know of co-teaches a Sunday school class. (One major difference that may or may not be related: Oshkosh church—200–300 attendees; Nashville church—3,000 attendees.)
I have noticed in my recent moths of babysitting how much young kids look up to and imitate those they are around. I’m convinced that my friends in Oshkosh realized this, and although not necessarily required as black or white in the Bible, portrayed higher standards than most other recent college graduates around the area may have. For instance, on New Year’s Eve 2006, the college group opted for a lock-in at the church, but only after all from the church who wanted to came out to play games that the college group organized.
The college and careers group at my Nashville church decided that it would be fun during our recent weekend excursion around TN to take a trip to a bar and grill for a steak and a cold beer.
Now, lest you misunderstand, I’m not saying that anything is good or bad with either approach. But it is plainly obvious the difference between the two, the influence of one group over the youth in the church, the black-and white stand versus the gray stand.
Robin and Jason brought this to mind when I visited them. While I am still in the same country after my recent move, I have still had to deal with some culture shock. Many in Nashville (I make generalizations knowing that they do not apply to everyone, but merely to state what I’ve observed) decide what is right or wrong based on feelings and personal interpretations, while those in Sheboygan and Oshkosh (at least those with whom I’ve had close contact) decide one way or the other and stand by their decisions, even if they are wrong. If I didn’t know this is where I am supposed to be, and to whom I should be spreading the truth of hell, God’s grace, and eternal life, I may not enjoy living here so much. If I had not decided at an early age where I would set certain boundaries, I may have been tempted to abandon them. But it is only through God’s grace and abounding mercy that I strive to honor and please Him in all I do.