Whatever is Commendable
On Dec. 28, 2009 I cut out a comic and put it on our refrigerator. Lola (written by Todd Clark and run in the St. Louis Post Dispatch) is a somewhat crass, worldly grandma living with her son and his family. The first panel has her on her knees, “Dear Lord, in the New Year, make me the person you want me to be.” The second panel shows her face suddenly scrounged up in worry. In the last panel she finishes her prayer: “But, you know, without too much editing.”
Now why did I take the time to cut that one out? I could fudge a bit and say I was convicted, but that isn’t the whole truth. It was, instead, more of a nod in agreement with the comic’s commentary on American church folk — willing to dabble but not be edited too much by the Lord. And certainly too many congregational members are more edited by American culture than the Holy Spirit.
However, I was convicted the following Sunday. I was the preacher and in between the two services was Sunday school hour. I walked through the building to see what was happening. In a small gym, a young mom was just starting the devotion for the Sunday school. I’d say 15 – 20 rambunctious kids of a variety of ages up to 5th grade had been noisy and having fun. But soon they would be singing and, in a way, edited by the Lord through the dedicated staff of this Sunday school, who also were being edited by Him.
It was then that I realized how easily I had been looking through the critical eyes of the Law at the state of American church people, while too easily missing the nitty, gritty editing Jesus continues to do in the lives of the faithful members of His Church. I had fun spotting the sin but lost the joy of opening my eyes to the obedience flowing from faith, the love in action. I wonder if we who seek to think about the Church have been so trained to spot the sin that we are missing out on the true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise that our Lord says to think about.