God's Politics

God's Politics

Voice of the Day: Paul Brand

A troubling phenomenon recurs among young Christians reared in solid homes and sound churches. After living their early years as outstanding examples of Christian faith, many become spiritual dropouts. Did they fail because they concentrated on the exterior, visible Christian life? Did they learn to mimic certain behaviors, nuances of words, and emotional responses? Crayfish-like, did they develop a hard exterior that resembled everyone else’s and conclude such was the kingdom of God, while inside they were weak and vulnerable?
… An outside shell can seem attractive, trustworthy, and protective. It certainly has advantages over a dead, useless skeleton or over no skeleton at all. But God desires for us a more advanced skeleton that serves as it stays hidden.

– Paul Brand
Source: “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey

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posted February 2, 2007 at 5:52 pm

I was one of those “young Christians reared in solid homes and sound churches.” My parents are charter members of their Methodist church and celebrated 50 years of marriage last year. My mother volunteered as the children’s ministry coordinator for many years. My dad sang in the choir. Growing up, we attended church every Sunday. I was involved in the youth group, went through confirmation, and became a member of the church. Then I stopped going. For 15 years, through jr. and sr. high school, college, career and marriage, I never entered a church except for weddings and funerals. At times I described myself as an atheist, other times I might claim to be agnostic. I drank, used drugs, and was sexually promiscuous.I have thought a lot about that period of time in my life. The only thing I can put my finger on is that in spite of all the time I spent at the church and in youth group, I never had a close friend within the church family. I didn’t go to church to see my friends, I went to church because it was expected that I would go. Maybe that is what Brand’s crayfish analogy describes. Because when I tired of the activity of church, and found more enticing activity (with close friends) outside the church, I was no longer interested in church. My story continues to be a “textbook example.” A crisis in my life (the stillborn death of my daughter) made me realize that something was missing in my life. Although I continued on the same path for a few more years, it took the ending of my marriage to put me in a place where I could break free. I met a Christian woman, and we have been married for over 15 years. We attend the same Methodist church of my parents. I am a lay leader, and maybe not so surprisingly, my wife is the children’s ministry coordinator, now a paid staff position, and teaches at the church pre-school. We have two young teenage daughters who attend with us every Sunday, and at times I wonder, “Will they find fulfillment in the church or will it be empty to them? Will they wander and take the same dangerous paths I have walked?”I’ve tried to model Jesus Christ to my children but I am imperfect, and fail often. I have no answers. I have no solutions. I only have Jesus Christ, a loving family, and a loving church.

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posted February 2, 2007 at 6:49 pm

Hey brotha thanks for that. God be with you and your family!

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Peter Warlock

posted February 5, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I was like Mr McCool. I go warily with churches. The charismatic ones tend to be like cults. The traditional ones tend to think about those that finance them. No church I know meets my personal standards in the recognition of human rights. They will all complain to Human Rights Commission if they feel discriminated against, meanwhile internally they discriminate as they like under the protection of human rights legislation! Exclusive Brethren and other fundamentalists have started to gang up on socialist governments. I don’t accept that this is ethical. My leisure time is scarce precious. I limit my involvement, and feel at peace doing so. In an increasingly factionalised world, it is important to have huge numbers of non-aligned people to act as referee. Trust you understand these sincere views.

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