Saturday, June 29, 2013
I heard the argument. It took place in a Sunday School class that valued discussion. Maybe if the class had valued teaching more than discussion, it would not have happened. Sometimes I have wondered what is accomplished through the exchange of bad ideas that are embraced as if they are gospel truths. Anyway, they argued, the bell rang to end that particular round of Sunday School, and they hushed and left. She never knew her words had been so offensive and he quit coming.
"I'll not go back to the church as long as she is there!" is what he said when I noticed his absence of a few weeks. He had always been one of those "every Sunday" guys and it concerned me that he was on the edge of dropping out. After talking for awhile, I gave him some really bad advice. Since we had more than one worship service and there were several other Sunday School classes, I offered, "Try attending the early service (which I knew she did not attend) and visit another Sunday School class." He did. He returned with a schedule designed to avoid seeing this woman whose words had so offended him in the Sunday School class. When I left years ago for another church, he was still living with my terrible advice.
I should have said to him, "You must practice forgiveness," but instead I helped him live with the brokenness in his life. I enabled him to accommodate his sin. I was too concerned with getting his body in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and not concerned enough about the well being of his soul. It was bad advice. I have often regretted it, but the past is filled with unchangeable stuff and this mistake is one of them. When he arrived at the Pearly Gates and was asked about this particular brokenness, I can imagine him saying, "You remember that preacher You sent to our church, well, all I did was follow his advice." Actually, I hope a better and wiser preacher followed me and led this soul down the path of forgiveness.