I was a youngster of maybe eleven or twelve, when he started to attend the Conservative Mennonite church. This man and his wife had no religion in their home. Things were pretty rough in their marriage.
Like our family, he got to know the Mennonite culture and reached out in hope. Maybe they held the secret to eternal happiness. Maybe they had the answer to peace and hope, and would help him find himself and save his marriage.
Like many others, who are soon caught in trying to do all the right things, he started out with a sincere desire for truth. He accepted Jesus, became a born again believer and then received bad advice. Bad, in the sense that it excluded the most important factor.
He stopped smoking and drinking, all in one day. The church coached him. He got a haircut and shaved his ‘Elvis’ sideburns. The coaching continued. He was told to pray ‘x’ amount of times a day and read his Bible daily. That would be a good start.
Don’t misunderstand me. To mentor and coach is good, if the important things of the heart and God are addressed. I’m not against these things. None of them, except the glaring omission.
What about relationship with the Father through Jesus? Reality is, Jesus is our brother who found us on the streets—dirty, drugged, messed up—and walked us home to His Father and, in essence, said, “I love him… will you accept him as Your son?” or “I love her… will you accept her as Your daughter?” And on the grounds of His Son’s love and His Son’s sacrifice, the Father embraces us, grunge and all, and loves us to life.
Rather than learning this wonderful truth, most of us have been handed a ‘to do’ list and have been told that our salvation depends on it. A cold and distant God is watching and we better watch out.
This gentleman, wanting to please God, set to work on the list. The list grew. Now he was to let the preachers visit his home. (Some of the same preachers who years later had that huddle in the prayer room with me. ) They would help him with his list. When they offered, the man said, ‘Yes’, because good people say that to preachers. And he was a good man.
The bishop and the man, and any other willing ministry helpers who were there, grabbed the man’s TV, even though his wife wanted to keep it, and took it outside. There they broke the evil entertainment unit, so that the man would not be tempted by the evil in it.
The bishop wanted to help, so he told the man’s wife what she should do to avoid hell and damnation. She should become one of them and do the things they did. But the woman would have none of it! She wanted her husband back, not the man they were trying to create. So the woman grabbed a dinner plate off of the table and cracked it over the bishop’s head. I don’t know if she had washed it first.
The woman was very angry even after everyone left. And even though her husband was a sincere man and made some good changes, eventually she told him to leave. She wanted nothing to do with him and his religion.
And that is how their marriage ended.
(To be continued…)
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to First Post In This Series: