Yesterday I had one of the most stressful hours of my life. I was at the toddler group we run at church and I needed to play some music for the pass the parcel game. The sound desk was showing that it was receiving the sound signal but the music wasn’t coming through the speakers. I tried everything I could think of and I then called my technical friend who speaks English rather than the techgeek language which I don’t understand. Anthony was really helpful and patient but we still couldn’t solve the problem. When we were about to give up he asked if the buttons marked l-r were up or down? It turns out that someone had pressed all these buttons into the wrong position which meant that the sound signal wasn’t being sent to the speakers.
I noticed a group of children hanging around in the sound desk area after the service on Sunday and didn’t think anything of it. One of them being curious?/playful?/deliberately mischievous? caused me to waste an hour of my life. As you can imagine, I was pretty cross about this but then I remembered something that Berkeley (one of the leaders at Orchard Baptist) had said in a sermon a few weeks ago. He asked us if our greatest desire was to have well-behaved children or children who know Jesus? Whilst the obvious answer is we would want both, you have to ask which is our priority? Which do we pray for the most?
The foundational belief of Christianity is that God accepts us even though we are imperfect and even though we make mistakes. We can know Jesus even if we aren’t well-behaved so why is so much of our emphasis as Christian parents on needing perfect behaviour rather than on the grace which God prioritizes?
If you go to a church, think about its priorities. Is it to have respectable well-behaved people only or is it to have people who know and love Jesus? Jesus was followed by people who many churches wouldn’t want to let in. Imagine if Jesus became human again and was coming to your church. You would be so excited until you realized that his entourage involved prostitutes, tax collectors (people who were collaborating with an enemy force occupying your country) and uneducated irreligious people. The religious people looked down on immoral prostitutes, they hated the tax collectors and they didn’t have time for the uneducated.
It makes me so sad that the Church has become a place where respectability is expected and prioritized because when you read the gospels Jesus didn’t appear to emphasize respectability at all.
What’s more important to you, perfect behaviour or receiving God’s grace? Let’s choose to live in accordance with what we believe! If we believe that God’s grace saves us then let us prioritize that especially in the way we treat one another.
Of course, if we have received God’s grace then our behaviour should change, but it should be in that order. God doesn’t like me more if I am well-behaved, he loves and accepts me as I am and because of this grace I am inspired to live in a way that please him.
May God’s love and grace transform our lives and when we are stressed may we be especially full of his grace.