I don’t think that I like the notion of “Sunday School Answers.” Which isn’t to say that I don’t like prayer, scripture, and church attendance (the clear winner of last week’s poll), but rather I worry that the too frequent repetition of that triptych turns it into vain recitation, rather than a sincere attempt to seek and know the word of God.
Of course, some of this worry is unfounded. All three of these activities provide us with the opportunity to worship and to commune with God. Those are profound acts. No matter how we refer to them, the language can’t cheapen their divine intent or power. However, I wonder if the language causes us to forget those very characteristics. Since prayer, scripture, and church attendance is a kind of generic catch-all for spiritual, physical, and economic problems, I wonder if we tend to treat them the way we treat all generics: good if you have to, but to be avoided if possible.
Naturally, when I say we, I mean me. I am, generally, opposed to rote answers and questions in Sunday School and, therefore, I am inclined to see the Sunday School answers as a hindrance rather than a help. Such spiritual shorthand has a tendency, I think, to let us dismiss the immediacy of the problem at hand or the person in need. Instead of really thinking about the individual’s situation, we may decide that the prayer, scripture, and church attendance solution should solve any problem. If it doesn’t, the solution is more prayer, scripture, and church attendance.
In voicing this criticism, I feel a need to say that I believe that prayer, scripture, and church attendance are powerful forces for good. In particular, I believe that in doing them, we may actually come to know God, which really is the reason why we wandered down here to begin with. I believe that sincere, thoughtful prayer really is communion and communication with the divine. I believe that earnest, searching scripture study really can alter what we seek and why we seek it. I believe that the combination of worship and mutual service that makes a church meeting work can actually make us more like Christ. All of these things make us more charitable, faithful, and hopeful (nothing to shake a stick at). However, I worry that if we turn them into rote phrases, casually tossed off in order to keep a lesson moving along, then we exhibit a tendency to be dismissive of their power. I’m not sure that we should approach these three things as “that old thing.”
Perhaps I’m seeing things that aren’t there (as happens). Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill. Certainly, I have trouble fully appreciating the importance of these three acts in my own life (especially church attendance). So maybe I am just assuming that everyone struggles as I do. So don’t read this post as criticism, read it as confession. Ya’ll have a good night, and may you have many edifying lessons in your future.