TITLE: Rockin' The Way (11/26/15
By Kate Oliver Webb
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I wouldn’t say I’m a rabble-rouser, not by a long shot.
I’ve never preached on a street corner, and I’ve never been known to stand up on a city bus and sing gospel songs.
When I bow my head to pray before I eat in the local diner, I don’t make a big issue of it, raise my hands and pray aloud for all the other diners to come to Jesus. Fact is, sometimes I even neglect to bow my head to pray, especially if I think I might offend those eating nearby.
Okay, now that I’ve brought that subject up—“offend”—I’ll confess that I consciously try not to offend anyone by my faith in Christ. I mean, they have a right to their own beliefs, and I have a right to mine, right?
Oh, I talk a good game—when I’m at church, among my believing friends. It’s easy then, to declare my faith in Christ. And to encourage others to share their faith publicly, should the occasion arise.
But let’s not cause a commotion.
Then came the day I had a choice to make.
My kids, ages eight, ten and eleven, came home with a note from school that a special field trip was planned. The school was organizing groups, over a period of ten days, to visit a local mosque. This included an introductory video, a tour of the facility, and a question-and-answer period with the Imam (the worship and prayer leader of an Islamic congregation).
My first thought was that this would be a good informational piece as part of a governmental and civics module. I remember a semester during my elementary school days in which we studied the culture—including foods, language, and government—of Mexico. I was not only introduced to that country, I also got a glimpse—a “feel” if you will—of another group of people other than the one in which I was raised.
And then … ah, and then! Wait, I thought. When I closely studied the country of Mexico, was I given indoctrination into the Roman Catholic Church, which was its predominant religion? No. And in subsequent years, did any of my classes include studying Pentecostalism? Or the history and beliefs of the Methodist Church? No? What about Buddhism?
You get my thinking here?
The school did agree to let students opt out. At the same time, however, it was made clear that if that happened, the students would have a “Racist” note made to their permanent school record.
As I said, I don’t like to make waves. I don’t want to rock anyone’s boat.
But seriously, someone deliberately was rocking mine!
I had ten days to respond. I decided to have my kids opt out of this trip, and just let the matter rest.
That was before my conscience—aka God—began to speak. It wasn’t the matter of the permanent “Racist” note in a file (although, as a black woman with bi-racial kids, that accusation was ironic). It was my memory of a day at work, some fifteen years previous, when I had decorated my cubicle’s corkboard with a red t-shirt emblazoned with “Merry Christian”—but removed it at my supervisor’s direction, so as not to offend.
Wouldn’t you know, the Sunday immediately following the field trip note, our Pastor spoke from Acts 19. Verse 23 spoke to me: “…about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way.”
It’s a fascinating story:† Paul and the disciples had been successfully preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which had become known as “The Way.” The message included the fact that forged-silver idols which people had been worshiping, the goddess Diana specifically, were not living gods. The One God, Jesus Christ whom Paul preached, was the only Way.
Understandably, the silversmiths who made a killing with their craft caused quite a commotion—a riot of confusion and accusation. So much so that leaders of The Way warned Paul to stay away from the dangerous crowd. But because this occurred in Ephesus (which was, in effect, the “temple-keeper” of the goddess Diana), it looked like the union of the silversmiths just might prevail.
But at the last-minute persuasion of the town clerk who supervised such gatherings, the matter was dropped; or in our vernacular, “no harm, no foul.”
Could I cause a “stir” with my stand against indoctrination of my children? Would I?
God grant me wisdom and power to declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ!
†Acts 19:23-41 - ASV
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