Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
One near universal truth about any job is that of training. The simple truth of this is that in order to do any particular type of job, you must be trained for it. So too, if you are being trained, you must follow the instructions given. It doesn’t matter if you are being trained to operate a computer, a strapping machine, or a forklift. Simple truth, if you are not trained, you are not qualified to do that particular job.
The same can be said of the church. Many branches of the church offer membership classes for those whom seek to join a particular church body. Indeed, some churches go so far as to hold membership type classes specifically for the children, often referenced to as catechism class. It is also common for those types of churches to hold what are frequently referenced to as adult confirmation classes. The intent of both of these is to instruct new members, whether they are adults or children, regarding the particular beliefs of the church.
To those outside of the church, it may seem somewhat peculiar to hear that churches would do this type of thing. However, there is a scriptural mandate that the churches are simply trying to follow. Before he ascended to the Father, Christ Jesus instructed his disciples saying ““All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Thus it has been that most churches have, over the course of the centuries, tended towards baptizing their children and instructing them in the beliefs of the church.
How important is it to follow instructions? I suppose it depends upon the instructions. I know for fact that some instructions, if not followed to the letter, can result in immediate death. This is especially true in cases involving certain types of machinery or electronics. In the church setting, in could result in being expelled (known as excommunication) from a particular church. While certainly not fatal, being excommunicated is not usually desirable. However, even Martin Luther recognized that there are times when instructions should not be followed, particularly if they are wrong or even harmful. Incidentally, he was excommunicated.
It is impossible to follow instructions that have not been given. It is impossible to follow God’s call in our lives if we have not heard and followed the instructions that were given unto us in the Bible. Indeed, it is well written in the Book of Proverbs “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Thus it is, whether it is to do a job or to understand what a church believes, some form of training is involved. There is no possible way to escape this, no matter what we may think we know. Such being the case, we do well to ask questions and learn before we try to presume that we know what we are doing. There is no other way.
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.