Barbara and I recently acquired an old, abandoned desk from a church of which I had become senior pastor in 2013. The top drawer contained only one item – an offering envelope dated May 12, 1957. To read that offering envelope was to remind us that the seeds for the demise of American Evangelicalism may have been sown a long time ago:
There is a Spanish proverb well known in South America that says, “A bird can fly any distance in all directions, but it can only raise a family in the nest.”
In this helter-skelter age of ours, how greatly we need to build safe nests for our children, Christian homes where they will be protected from evil influences and trained for useful and happy lives in their Heavenly Father’s world.
On the opposite side were these critically relevant words:
Do not let your arrears accumulate, as our expenses are constant. Put in this envelope your Weekly Offering $_____________.
Here is another Spanish proverb that might be more relevant: “The shrimp that sleeps is taken by the current.”
The dangers within the nest:
My experience as an outdoorsman has taught me that one of the most dangerous places for our winged friends is in the nest. On point, last spring we were watching a robin’s nest with 4 ready eggs that, without warning, were whisked away by predators.
What are the “evil influences” from which children in Christian homes need physical and emotional protection? Hypocrisy, maybe? Self-righteousness, maybe? Might there be a subtle sampling of many such evil influences in the Christian home and church?
I worry that seeds of white privilege and Christian nationalism sown so innocently decades ago are now manifesting as anger at the inadequacies of the protective “nest” against temptations of the flesh.
Road to irrelevancy:
The “safe nest” now finds our congregations in decline while our children and grandchildren raised in a Christian bubble have consigned us to irrelevancy. No amount of “helter-skelter” rock music, casual attire, seeker services or holy dancing seems to have reversed the trend for more than a season or two.
When Jesus taught, "Allow the little children, and don't forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these" (Matt 19:14), was He suggesting that the better option might somehow be to help our children to build resources to follow Him rather than to rely on “safe nest” sanctuaries of home, church, and school?
This Jesus who beckons our children to follow; where can He be found? “…let us go out to Him outside the camp (nest?), bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13). Adequately training our kids to find genuine refuge as adult citizens of the present, dynamic, triumphant Kingdom of God is a far more exacting mission than that of keeping the doors locked against “other”.