This is a brief tale about the impact of false teaching in the church …
As a child growing up, the boy never remembered his father joining the family at church unless it was some sort of special event … weddings, funerals, Boy Scouts, etc. But his mother made sure that the boy and his sister faithfully made it to Sunday school and church every weekend … right up to the beginning of their high school years … then somehow someway other activities seemed to take precedence.
The boy’s young adult years were rebellious … not so much rebellious against his parents … but rebellious against God. For a number of years sin became something to be embraced rather than avoided. While he accepted Christ and was baptized in his mid twenties, the flesh continued to wage war against the Spirit and more often than not won. We won’t name the offenses … sometimes in the midst of testimony the offenses tend to overshadow the rescue and the Rescuer.
For over twenty years, the boy … now a man … continued to find himself in the midst of the war between the flesh and the Spirit … and dead center on his team jersey was the little ‘f’ instead of the big shining ‘S’. He tried to overcome his fleshly desires and switch teams but to no avail … if only he could be more obedient to the commandments.
Somehow he suddenly found himself in the midst of church leadership on several fronts … but as he looked around, he rarely sensed or saw Jesus. But he had purpose in these works … he was so thankful for what Jesus did to forgive his sins and give him eternal life. He just couldn’t do enough to repay Jesus for what he had done. And to that end, he bucked up and embraced the burden.
And yet he realized there was error in his thinking … he saw his need for a teacher … a mentor … to teach him and help him embrace the Way of Christ Jesus. Now the story of that mentoring relationship is for another time and another day … but it is critical in this little tale to understand how God worked through this mentor to overcome the false teaching the man had learned and embraced in church. Apart from that relationship … well, this would just be another story about religion.
The son is now in his sixties … the father in his nineties. His father has always been the most moral, ethical , honest and upright person he has known. Even thought his father was baptized at a young age, the evidence of faith in Christ Jesus has never been evident … at least from what he had come to understand.
The son had always been under the impression that something had happened in church that turned his father away from the church. In recent months, his father had a close call with mortality. He seemed to be more interested in the things of God … the ground had been tilled in such a way that a conversation on faith could finally begin …
As the son and the father were riding through the countryside near his home, the father said, “I’d like to show you the church I’ve always thought we’d go to if we ever choose to join a local church.” And they drove by the little white church with a steeple sitting on top of a hill … a church that might hold 50-60 members.
And the son finally in a moment of boldness asked, “What turned you away from the church?”
And the response surprised the son …
“Nothing turned me away from the church … although I didn’t like the sermons. But I have dedicated my life to what the church taught me about how to live … living and transacting life morally, ethically and honestly.”
Later … the son wept with understanding … and asked the Lord to let the conversation continue …