The New Testament is full of reminders for Christians to be careful how they lived their lives. The writers (and God) knew that non-Christians watch Christians carefully. Sure, some do it to find an excuse not to believe, but many are looking in hopes of seeing the light and love of God in our lives. Reflecting God’s love to others is what draws them to Him and His Words.
If you have children for very long, you soon become swept up in birthday parties, volunteer commitments and a whole new world of people who may previously have been strangers. Hopefully, these people will soon learn from you and your children that your family worships God faithfully.
Peek into any Church on a Sunday and you will see lots of volunteers running around performing a variety of functions. Some take just a few minutes, while others have spent hours in preparation and will volunteer yet another hour or more during classes or services. Yet most of these people go unnoticed and unappreciated by the members they are serving. When they are noticed, it is often by someone wanting to criticize their endeavors.
In the Biblical model, the leaders of the church are called Elders. They are men who are required to have a long list of qualifications to even be considered for this volunteer position (I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9). God expects these men to lead the congregation, which often includes teaching, counseling and solving the most difficult problems. They are also to make the decisions that affect the spiritual lives of the congregation. They oversee (in fact one of the names for this position is overseer) everyone in the congregation including ministers, staff, deacons, ministry leaders and members.
I can’t imagine how many hours Elders volunteer each week. Yet often, they receive more criticism than anyone in the Church. Rarely do members show their appreciation for all of the time these men (and their wives) spend helping and guiding everyone.
“April Fools!” One of the fun parts of childhood is playing practical jokes on your parents on April Fools Day. Kids love “knock knock” jokes and enjoy learning jokes that were already old when their oldest relatives learned them as children.
Sometimes though, kidding around starts to take an ugly turn. Often society accepts downright meanness as “humor”. I even hear adults defend mean humor, teasing and hurtful kidding as a necessary part of toughening up children for the real world.
What really is appropriate for kids to do in the name of humor? What about parents? Are adults allowed to be mean in their humor when directing it towards other adults?
When Jesus told the people to love others as they loved themselves, I imagine most of them thought, “That one is easy”. On the surface, I would imagine most of us think of ourselves as being kind and helpful the majority of the time. Jesus was really asking us to go beyond that though. I think when you put this command with others in the Bible about caring for our neighbors, widows, orphans, the poor, our brothers and sisters in Christ and a host of others, there is a deeper message.
A large part of caring for others is the ability to be empathetic. It is entirely too easy to accidentally become like the other people in the story of the “Good Samaritan.” How many times have we walked by someone who is sad, either assuming someone else would take care of it or not even really seeing the person or her pain? We need to train ourselves and our children to see the hurting people around us, identify how they are hurting and then help them in the best possible ways. I believe developing a strong sense of empathy can make us more like the loving Christians Jesus was really calling us to be.
It seems like every where I turn these days, I hear about bullying. Back in the Leave It To Beaver days, a bully appears to have been the largest child in the class. Evidently, his mother never sent enough lunch, as his bullying efforts were always about getting more food. There appears to have been an average of one bully per class. You would think someone would have thought to just ask his mom to send more food, but evidently the idea never crossed their minds.
Fast forward to today and it seems like the halls of our schools are full of bullies. Now, instead of using their tactics as a way to score more food, it appears many of these children are terrorizing their peers just for the “sport” of it or to get their way. Honestly. it is not just children who are experiencing this rude verbal and physical behavior from their peers. I have noticed a steady rise in the same behavior amongst adults.