Sunday, November 15, 2015

To Summan...from Rebekah

According to a newspaper article I read last week research has shown that children from religious backgrounds are more likely to be selfish and less inclined to share than children from secular homes.

Children were given stickers and encouraged to share them with others in the room.  How giving the children were was calculated according to how many stickers they gave away.  The religious kids were not generous.

I read through the article hoping not to see Christianity listed as one of the religions.  It was there. Along with Islam.  They took the lion’s share of selfishness while those children from secular backgrounds were hailed as more giving.

I’m never sure that I like these kinds of reports in the sense that they really don’t tell you all the details. They cherry pick the juicy bits. Secular households will nod their heads sagely and say that they knew that religious people were not nice. It confirms what they already thought they knew. Religious households will look for something to explain the results.  I did it myself – there are nominal Christians out there, the ones that are not practising Christians.  They tick a box that really says they are not Muslims or Hindus or another religion, but it’s just a label and not a lifestyle.  I’d like to think they are not the real thing at all.

It saddens me to think that they were the real thing so I tell myself another story. I am disappointed that we have failed to be Jesus in the room.

Then, as if to prove a point, last Sunday happens.

I had a row of children sitting in front of me.  Unsupervised children. They chatted through the worship time and did silly things with their arms inside their T-shirts. It was a distraction but I didn’t feel I knew them or their parents well enough to put a stop to their nonsense.

The real test came later on.  One of them had pad of blank paper and a pen.  They sat heads bent over the page drawing things and giggling every so often.  It was an improvement on the arms inside their t-shirts. There was a girl sitting with them.  She wanted to have her turn with the pad and the pen but the boys hogged the paper. I felt her frustration.

“Give her your notebook and a pen,” said God.

I turned a deaf ear as I do at times.  God nagged me as He does at times. I tapped her on the shoulder and surrendered my notepad and pencil into her hands.  I thought we were just minutes away from wrapping up the song part of the meeting and then the children would head off for junior church. Her first picture was labelled " To Summan...from Rebekah". "Summan" is "Someone". She doesn't know my name.

Did I count how many pages she used? Yes! It was not a large notebook, just A5 in size.  She flicked from one page to another, drawing pictures. The boys suddenly became interested in the notebook she had and abandoned the one they had.  My notebook was passed from one to another as my precious pages took on an art gallery of scrawlings.  

“You have plenty of notebooks,” said God, “Stop fretting.” 

He was quite right, of course. I have lots of notebooks squirrelled away in drawers and on shelves.  So I stopped fretting and relaxed.    

I discovered that like these children in the report, the religious ones, I also had a hard time sharing.  I am not a nominal Christian.  I practise hard and I am improving.  My tick in a box isn’t to say I’m not a Muslim or a Hindu or another religion. It’s not a label but a lifestyle and I’d like to think I am the real thing. 

The report went on to say that it is the adult in the home that provides the role model.  If we want our children to be generous and giving throughout their lives as parents we need to set the example. That applies to more than just generosity.  If we want our children to be courageous – we have to demonstrate courage.  If we want them to be adventurous – we must live adventurous lives. If we want them to know God answers prayer – we have to start praying the kind of prayers God likes to answer.

We must be the demonstrators showing the way.

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