Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Right Answer, Wrong Lesson

I’m back to teaching ESL these days and I must say I have missed it. It’s a fantastic subject because it’s actually useful for the learner and I get to meet people from around the world.

I gave my students a simple assignment based on something we were learning in class. I was teaching them how to use Directory assistance in order to get someone’s phone number. Their assignment was to get my phone number.

When you’re just starting out learning a second language, calling an operator to get a phone number is quite intimidating. The easy way to get the right answer is to get it from another student that had the courage to make the phone call. The answer would be right but the lesson would obviously be lost.

I think many people are rushing off to church as the correct answer without ever really contemplating the true lesson of getting together.

Here’s a story a friend of mine sent me to help illustrate this.

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, suddenly stopped coming to church. After a few weeks, the Pastor decided to visit. The Pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his Pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the Pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and lifeless.

The Pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave, he slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the Pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."

A fascinating “right” answer. We need to be with others. Sadly this story doesn’t ask enough questions.

Why did the man stop going to church?

Why did nobody but the pastor visit him?

Why was he not investing his life in others?

But by gum, he did get the right answer about going to church next Sunday.

This is the link to Robin's comment about the "monster" that we have created.


Robin Cecile said...

So sad how most who would read this would come to the conclusion that it "is" all about the service. Why is it so easy for us to miss the real message of fellowship. The "Monster" will protect itself. See this link for more on "The Monster"

Tim Chase said...

Just thought I'd let you know that I used the story this morning to talk about the value of small groups. I hope that's closer to the "right question."

David Grant said...

Glad it was helpful. Enjoying each other and hearing from Jesus is always a good reason to get together.