Sister to Sister: A Good and Defiant Heart?

Yesterday at the conclusion of a ladies seminar at which I spoke, I was in conversation with a schoolteacher. She described having been involved in a meeting prior to the school year in which she was told she was not allowed to tell the students she was a Christian. I could go on and on about how twisted this sort of gag rule is; about the absurdity of such a misapplication of the Constitution’s provision for freedom of religion; about the fact that there are other teachers in her school who wear the Islamic scarves called hijab; about the amazing boldness of the devil in our education system today.

But let me suffice it to say that, if anyone, in any place of employment says that to me, at that point I have but two choices: resign from that position or remain on in defiance of the order, come what may.

II Corinthians 6:14 says this:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Many have applied this teaching to the marriage of a believer to a non-believer. While I think there are marital situations to which this verse may apply, I think the verse is directly relevant to the schoolteacher’s situation. While I can be in the yoke with unbelievers (work for them and with them, live in neighborhoods with them, be in organizations with them and play sports with them), I cannot be under the power of any man or group of men who, in the exercise of that power, would force my denial of or disobedience to my King Jesus. The other force in the yoke cannot overpower my will to serve the Lord.

This teacher told me that she would be telling her students that she was a Christian. She said “ Though I may not get the chance to teach them the gospel while they are in my classroom, I want them to grow up and remember that Mrs. Jones was different in a good way…and I want them to remember that it was likely because she was a Christian.”

She understands the choices before her. First, she can keep her Christianity hidden. Or, secondly, she can quit her job and tell everyone she’s a Christian. Or she can defy the order and risk getting fired. Undercover Christianity is not an option for faithful people. So she has chosen to disobey the order and take her chances. She’s doing what Peter and John did in Acts 3-5. They were ordered to stop teaching about Jesus by those who were clearly in positions of authority over them. They did not stop teaching (option one). They did not move to some other location to do their teaching (option two). They boldly disobeyed the orders, risking, and later receiving, the punishment.

As I continue to be shocked at the intolerance toward Christianity in our governmentally controlled arenas (Which founding father would have thought?!), I’m in prayer for all of the Mrs. Joneses who are standing firm in their professions of Christianity. Some are doing it in schools, both as teachers and students. Others are doing it in governmental and judicial positions. Some are standing for God in situations of social persecution.

I find comfort in the conclusion of this discussion about unequal forces in the yoke:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (vs. 17,18).

May we come out and be separate, so we can be his daughters.

Sister to Sister: “He’s Family.”

13445308_10153545698711384_8626082806051738344_nIt caught me a little off-guard when the manager at Waffle House In Jacksonville, Alabama called me over to the counter to have a word with him. He asked for my phone number. 

Well, that didn’t sound right. What I mean is, he wanted an emergency number just in case any medical emergency ever comes up with my father who’s 93 and goes to Waffle House almost every single day….Sometimes, he goes two or three times a day. I was touched. He said “Well, he’s like family to us. That’s just how much we think of him.” 

They know what he orders and they give him a little extra of this or that. They open his creamers and his jellies because they know those arthritic hands have a hard time getting them open. They refill and pamper and “darlin” him till he’s full and then they open all the doors wide for his walker as he leaves. 

That’s how they define treating someone like family. And, mind you, I’m very grateful that they’re so very attentive and kind. They are extremely accommodating and most respectful.  And the fact that they cared enough to get the contact info struck a chord inside me. 

But, still, I’m glad that Dad has a real family. Real family, you see, does a whole lot more than taking breakfast orders, delivering the purchased items, and doing it with kindness and extra measures of respect and friendliness. All of that is so much more than you expect, as a customer, but still not nearly what it means to be “family”.  

Being family is doing everything in your power to identify and make sure all needs are met. Family is shared memories and hopes. It’s defending each other while holding each other accountable. It’s rescuing. It’s reminiscing. It’s communicating about the mundane and struggling together through the challenging. It’s being secure, even in your mutual vulnerability. In the Bible, it’s the Greek word “storge” and the absence of this kind of love is included in some pretty heinous sin-lists in the New Testament (Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3).

It’s interesting, in this context, that God calls us— the church—the “family” (Ephesians 3:15). Sometimes I fall so short of the calling of “family” in reference to my treatment of the brothers and sisters with whom I have the truest kinship…the blood kinship that comes from Calvary. 

I’m pretty devoted to my physical family. There’s not much I wouldn’t do for either of my sisters or my brother. I have a pretty constant anxiety about my father’s well-being. The way I miss my mother is deep and, at times, still excruciating. My husband is everything to me, My children and grandchildren are dear to me beyond words. They put the light in my eyes and the spring in my step. I am all about family.

Perhaps the manager at Waffle House really does think my father is like family. But, for me, family is a little bit more. May I work harder to be truly “family” to those who are my siblings in the family of God. May I strive to exhibit the same (or even a greater) care for the eternal family as I do for the physical family. And may I not allow the fact that I can’t keep up with the needs and cares and sorrows of that many people to stop me from doing my best to treat my Christian kin as family; one person…one opportunity at the time.