Last week we enjoyed spring vacation in Florida with our adult kids and our two youngest grandchildren. It was a really nice week, and we had near-perfect weather, lots of fun and a good experience being together in one condo for the week. The grandchildren, Austin and Leah, were especially cute (from my unbiased opinion as their Abu or grandpa), but they have reached the age where they get into verbal arguments with one another.
What did they argue about? They were each possessive and wanted their own way at times. In particular they were possessive of Marsha (whom they call "Meemaw") and we had to listen to each of them declare, "She is my Meemaw!" followed by the other responding, "No, she is my Meemaw!" It was cute in many ways, but it was hard for us to get them to realize that Meemaw belongs to both of them.
Their silliest argument was about their age. Austin, who turned 3 last August, would declare, "I'm 3," and then Leah, who turned 3 in January, would respond, "No, I'm 3!" No matter how hard we tried to get them to understand that they could both be 3 years old, they would argue about their ages.
While such arguments by children are cute, they reflect an age-old argument that humans have had for centuries. We human beings want our own way, we don't want to share, and we don't want to yield to someone else's needs or happiness. It is cute in little children, but it is ridiculous in adults and especially among church people who forget that the first lesson of being Christian is to love one another. Too often in the church we base our arguments upon our own PREFERENCES rather than joining together to accomplish the PURPOSE and the mission of the church. I hear people wanting their preferences in worship styles, Sunday morning schedules, dress codes for their pastors, and a whole range of other issues which are really about each person's PREFERENCE rather than about the PURPOSE of the church. When we try to settle such disputes around our own PREFERENCES there are no solutions. When we pause and reflect about such issues in the light of the church's PURPOSE, then different solutions become obvious.
As I listened to the "age-old" arguments by our two 3-year-olds, I wondered if some of our church disputes today sound that childish to God. Perhaps even our arguments about sexuality and marriage seem childish to The Lord in the face of a world full of issues like hunger, injustice, poverty, greed, violence, war, disease, etc. In the midst of such important issues, does God become inpatient with our endless arguments?
I don't know all the answers, but I do know that we will never find answers by shouting at one other from our own PREFERENCES and our own possessiveness. I was reminded by our two 3-year-olds that we adults need to focus upon our larger PURPOSE in life and in the church.