Once upon a time in America everyone dressed for church. On Sunday, families in stationwagons all over America backed down driveways, spun about smartly, and headed out to practice this God given freedom. Our Dad, the one in the photo, fought in WWII defending American freedoms and upholding the American way of life. We owe him and others like him a huge debt of gratitude. Today Americans speak English in America! Thankfully we don’t speak Japanese or German. And thankfully all ten articles of the Bill of Rights are still in effect. The first article reads like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
It was considered not just unusual but Un-American to not attend church in 1950s. Of course it was your right to not attend. In so doing you became the subject of quiet discussions. You were whispered about – in hushed tones – the kind of tones reserved for the divorcee, or a teenage girl who suddenly went to visit Aunt Polly in another town. Maybe you weren’t fully stigmatized and ostracized but what you were was much, much worse. It was as if someone said you had the cooties. Today, it is common place for babies to be born out of wedlock. Today, it is common for a woman to be a divorcee at least once before she is 25. Today, nobody ever says the word “cooties”. To borrow a phrase: “We’ve come a long way, baby!” In which direction we’ve come and the direction in which we are travelling is fodder for opinion. Opinions can change minds, but opinions can’t change facts.
Christians aren’t to talk about people behind their backs. Gossip is one of those sins that flourishes in America today – like pine forests in Oregon. Sadly, it also finds fertile soil in her churches.
Are we humans not skilled at self justification? I have recognized in myself that if I am making an excuse for my actions or behavior it certainly means it is not Christian behavior. If it were Christian behavior I would not have to justify my actions. If it was you exhibiting this behavior, there is no doubt in my mind but I would label it as sinful, but since it’s me – Well, I can do it because I have a special spiritual sin suspension-clause from God. NOT! Now I’m not expecting Christian behavior from a non-Christian. Before I became a Christian I didn’t have any Christian behaviors – so if I didn’t model Jesus before I became a Christian, why would I expect any other living, breathing non-Christian to pray, read their Bible, attend church, or give time, treasure, or talent to the Christian life? No, I expect those things from Christians and those who claim to be Christians. Do I do these thing perfectly?
Maybe I need to drag out my Sunday best a little more often through out the day.