“God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:24
I am part of a team going to explore Navajoland in response to an invitation of the bishop there. We will look and listen and learn from the Navajos and see how we can partner with them to do God’s work. In preparation for this marvelous opportunity, our team has been reading extensively and researching the history and culture of Native Americans.
To my distress I have read that:
“The Navajo’s concept of religion is so total that it can be said that there is no such thing
as religion in Navajo culture because everything is religious. Everything a Navajo knows—his shelter, his fields, his livestock, the sky above him and the ground upon which he walks–is holy. The Navajos for the most part, have long resisted Christianity. They look upon it as a ‘part-time’ religion where a man’s god is available to him for only a few hours on Sunday and then has to be sought out in a special house where his spirit dwells.” (Locke: The Book of the Navajo)
Even though this may be a broad generalization, it seems that the Navajo are not the only ones who hold this opinion. These “part-time” Christians could be called “nominal,” Christians in name only or, perhaps, they are believers who have not yet been discipled. Nevertheless, that those who call themselves Christians do such a poor job of representing the Son of God, the Light, the Truth, and the Way is heartbreaking.
As true followers of Jesus, we are to lift him up so that when people see us, they glorify God. Our actions are to reflect hearts of love and integrity and bless and bring the life of Christ to our world, especially those around us. We have centuries of misperception to undo, and it can only be done by abandonment to Jesus Christ, scrupulously following the crucified Lord, and abiding in his resurrected life. All the while depending totally on him…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a massive global turning to Jesus Christ through the witness of his children who are walking faithfully with him?
Father, forgive us for our selfish, flawed portrayal of our idea of Christianity. Convict us and work within us that those who do not yet know you might hunger and thirst for you because of the Jesus they see in us. Humbly, I pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
All your children will be taught by the LORD…Isaiah 54:13
Last night my brother and I were having dinner together. As often happens, we were talking about family—all our children are grown now—and how we never know until much later if our methods will yield the results we hoped. Both of us are still in the watching mode, but we did agree that our parents, particularly our father, had a firm impact on us.
Papa taught us to persevere and never give up; he urged us to excel (“Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”); he taught us integrity by example; and he taught us to work hard, among other things. Our mom, on the other hand, focused on spiritual values and was the source of wisdom as we were trying our own spiritual wings. They took the responsibility of parenting seriously and left nothing to chance.
I suppose Jack and I will both be parents as long as we live. We shared prayer concerns and discussed matters that as parents of grown children, we are trusting our heavenly Father to direct and inform. Letting go and releasing our children to the Lord is an ongoing exercise as we see our children stumble and scrape spiritual knees. We wish healing were still only a matter of finding the Bactine and Disney Bandaids. But we don’t want to stave off the struggles that draw our children closer to the Lord and that shape their characters to be more like him.
While we were talking, Jack’s cell rang. His grown son, a father himself who lives in another state, was calling about a trivial matter but one that needed his dad’s input. (Looks like Jack succeeded on the communication issue. His son definitely knows Dad is there for him to share about the smallest concern. Just like his heavenly Father.)
As we sit back and watch, we observe our children embracing many of the principles that were taught and modeled while they were growing up and many they are now teaching their own children. We hold our collective breath as we see some of them treading treacherous waters, but we wait in faith knowing that they are even more precious to our heavenly Father than they are to us. We watch, remembering the promises given to us as parents: “ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6).” “All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace (Isa. 54:13).” “In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge (Prov. 14:26).” “ Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you (Deut. 4:40)…”
When my son was five or six, he made a pronouncement: “Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to be a Christian but not like you. I’m not going to read all those books (pointing to the devotional books I savored each morning).” Nowadays, he calls and asks if I read Daily Light or My Utmost. It’s working.
Father, more than anything, we want our children and their children and their children’s children to know you and to enjoy you—forever. Fulfill your promises to us as we wait and trust in you. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.