Our pastor recently announced that he was leaving ministry. He gave us all an explanation we could grasp and embrace along with a few weeks of sermons we could look forward to prior to his last on Easter. Building up and through those few weeks he asked himself what he should do with his few remaining messages from the pulpit. You can find those three sermons, HERE, HERE, and HERE…
He chose wisely. We spent three weeks covering Colossians 1:15-20. To grasp the most basic of things seemed apropos. Jesus is God. Not was, but is. Jesus is Everything, yes?
Over these three sermons my son, a rarely engaged 5yr old, must have been listening. He has taken to placing his Paw Patrol toys into a line, eerily similar to the lines of pews at church. Next he chooses one to play the role of “Pastor Steve” for a sermon. He opens each time with, “Good morning church,” mimicking his experiences each Sunday morning.
What happened next gave me pause. It isn’t uncommon when he’s playing for me to notice he transitions into gibberish in place of an unknown. If he’s portraying a long dialogue he’s listened to or watched on the TV, and doesn’t know it all, he’ll regurgitate the content he recalls and use gibberish as filler for the balance. This is age appropriate depending on the content, so I’m not too worried about it. In this case, I was taken aback somewhat.
From the other room I heard, “Jesus Christ” in perfect clarity and with a loud and poignant slant, followed by a blend of gibberish and conversation, then “Jesus Christ” over and over. It was my son preaching to his toys as one of the other toys. You can imagine how I compelled to ask him two questions, neither of which I assumed he could answer.
The first, “Son, Who is Jesus Christ?” He answered, “God…” The second, “And What is Jesus Christ?” He answered, “Everything…”
This child is paying enough attention in church that he gleaned the most important two things he could have out of the previous three weeks. I always wonder about what items make their way into my son’s head, or any child’s for that matter. Let there be no mistake about him sitting down front and keeping him in the pew instead of the nursery with the other little kids as where he should be. No doubt.
My wife and I talked about this a little bit, but weren’t too worried about anything one way or the other. We were proud as punch he had properly been able to answer back the strong points of the sermons. It didn’t matter to my wife or I the depth of his understanding, but more so that he could respond when asked about what he’d said.
Fast forward a week. After church he popped up to the pulpit and asked our associate pastor and musical director, Brian, if he would help him speak from the pulpit. Brian obliged my son. Of course he lead with, “Good morning church” to which the handful of stragglers among the sanctuary responded in kind. He then went onto exclaim, “Jesus Christ!” a few times while I recorded it on my phone. It was touching and proved to be a smile maker. Driving home from church however, my wife and I wondered if the majority of others outside our church would take this in context.
I mention this to you all, as today we hear “Jesus Christ” in church, during prayer, and a few other times of day with select family or company. The rest of the times we hear “Jesus Christ” it is synonymous with swearing. I expect to hear people say it ranging from a stubbed toe, a car wreck, even a missed golf shot, or too often when a little girl misses a dig on the volleyball court as muttered by the parent seated beside you. We’re that bad aren’t we?
As I thought through this I was worried my son would say “Jesus Christ” in the spirit in which it is meant, and it be taken as a swear word by others in school. Maybe he’d be given a look of scorn by somebody in the grocery store. Worse yet he might earn the moniker of being a bad kid whose parents taught him to swear. Would any of those things be true of his exclamations? They would not, yet they’d remain…
It took me a while to consider it rightly, but of all the people and scenarios I’ve offered up, many of which you pictured all too easily, the only person acting appropriately to the command of God would be my 5yr old son among the whole. He is speaking of the risen Lord with passion and he holds the correct impression that His name is to be loved and embraced by any who hear it.
My son has yet to receive from his teachers a correction that discourages him from saying the name “Jesus Christ” while playing. My son hasn’t heard someone misuse His name in place of swearing. My son rightly understands Who and What Jesus is. Not was, but is. You should ask yourself if others encourage and celebrate Him this much? The answer is we don’t, and if you’re even remotely self aware, the next logical question becomes what are we doing ourselves to share Him?
I hope and pray I can glean good habits from my little boy. I want to become so unabashedly joyful with His spirit that His name is bliss to all those who hear it. I pray I transmogrify into a person so comfortable giving it, that people I know expect to hear His name and the glory associated with knowing Him.
I owe my son big for this life lesson. When his joy saying “Jesus Christ” is dashed, and I’m under no illusion someone will soon steal that pleasure from him, I hope to rebuild it within him, as he’s shown me some fun ways to kindle that fire.
Thank you Lord for this example. I’m forever grateful for Your edification.
Colossians 1:15-20 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Be salt and seek light my friends. Please.