I am afraid that, at least in this area, I remain plebeian and unrefined. I do not want my Mississippi Mud Cake, my Texas Sheet Cake, my Wellesley Fudge Cake, nor even my plain old fudge brownies to taste like Oreos. And the frosting on a chocolate cake should never be darker than the cake—it is just not right somehow.
I find that is the way I feel about a lot of things. Dumplings should be flat, not puffy, waterlogged biscuits; cookies should be chewy or crisp, never cakey; and tea should be sweet, not bitter, while coffee should be black, not sweet.
And in the spiritual arena, Bible classes should be classes. I need to attend with a mindset to learn, not to show off how much I already know. Would we ever allow our children to teach their own classes from their desks? Yet for some reason we think that those old “read a verse and comment” classes are great. The more people talk, the better the class, some say, when often the opposite is true. When one verse is divorced from its context, all sorts of strange concepts arise. The more people talk, the more confused the babes in Christ may become. And really, shouldn’t what the teacher has spent hours preparing be far better than anything any of us can come up with off the cuff? Discussion is one thing; allowing the students to teach the class is quite another.
The word “class” necessarily involves hearing something new, or at least challenging. It may mean I have to think deeper thoughts than usual, that I may actually need to go home and study on my own to fully appreciate what I have been told. Yikes! I might actually need to put in a little more effort than sitting on a pew for an hour.
In the same vein, sermons should be sermons, not Rotary Club talks. Once again that involves the idea of being challenged to be a better person, to change some area of my life, even, perhaps, to admit wrong at least to myself and God. Can’t have that, can we? Why, someone might be offended. If no one ever goes away offended (in our use of the term, not the Bible’s), I think it is a safe bet that a real sermon has never been preached. “Thou art the man,” is difficult to say without someone knowing he is being confronted.
So stop expecting Oreos where there should be none. They are fine in their place, usually with a glass of milk at the kitchen table, but don’t put them on the menu at a four star restaurant.
We should feel that way whenever anyone tries to insult our intelligence with Bible classes that are not classes and sermons that are not sermons. We should want the pure, unadulterated word of God “in season and out of season,” which translates, “whether we want to hear it or not,” whether it is easy or not, and we should want to go deeper and deeper, applying it in our lives, finally transforming us into what God would have us be.
And they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading. And all the people went their way to eat and to drink, and to send portions and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them, Neh 8:8,12.