For many years, I taught a group of kids on Wednesday evenings, and one evening, we had a lesson about how Isaac handled the situation when the Philistines plugged up his wells. In that day, that amounted to an act of war, a war Isaac could have won. The Philistine commander admitted as much. Isaac chose not to wage war. He chose not to react in the expected way, the socially acceptable way. Instead, he chose to respond in a way that reflected the God he served. He turned the other cheek and he dug new wells.
Several things happened as a result.
- God reaffirmed his covenant with Isaac (Genesis 26:24)
- The Philistines recognized God was with him (26:28)
- The Philistines asked to make a covenant with Isaac (26:28)
Because Isaac chose not to react, but to respond in a way that demonstrated his faith in God’s sovereignty, the nonbelievers around him took note and wanted to align themselves with him.
The “other” lesson
That’s a good enough lesson in itself, but in the process of discussing with the kids how we can deal with our anger, the options of prayer and Bible reading came up. The kids rolled their eyes at the “church” answer.
The unspoken verdict – Sure, those things work for some old guy in the Bible, but not for me dealing with the jerks in school.
The unspoken admission – We only come to Bible study class for the snacks and games.
Let’s not be too hard on the kids. Do we go to small group or class or even worship out of obligation or responsibility or habit, or do we really come to hear from God about the situations in our lives? Do we want to see what His standards are, and what we need to change to become more Christ-like? Do we really believe His counterintuitive approaches like blessing those who curse us?
If that’s not the focus then we are all wasting our time, teachers and students alike. If I teach because I have to and not because I believe, rather I know, that God’s word is life-changing then I’d be better off at home watching television.
But if God’s word DOES contain life-changing truth (and I’m convinced it does) and
if we let that truth change us,
if we learn God’s ways,
if we consciously choose to reflect Him in our dealings with those around us,
several things will happen as a result.
- God will reaffirm the promises He made to us.
- The people around us will recognize that God is with us.
- We will build relationships with those people which could ultimately lead to their own transforming encounter with God.
And that lesson is even better than snacks.