Posted in biblical worldview, immorality, judge not, morality, putnam, society

The plague of non-judgmentalism

By Elizabeth Prata

I saw an essay by Gene Veith, titled “Class, children, & the social costs of nonjudgmentalism.”

The Veith title and the essay itself is based on the work of Robert Putnam, “a very important social scientist”, who has written a new book called Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. It deals in part with what happens to a society that refuses to hold anyone else to a moral standard. The collapse of moral standards (in the face of unwillingness to call out bad behavior and set expectations for good behavior) is causing a crisis among families. We do feel sympathy for latchkey kids, abused kids, families split, drug culture ruining lives. NY Times columnist David Brooks opined about “Our Kids”,

But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.

I am familiar with Putnam’s work, most notably his 2001 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

I referenced Putnam’s earlier work from Bowling Alone in a blog essay, Churching Alone: The Collapse of American Churches. I’d written about the lack of a thriving biblical presence in communities, the Christian parallel to what Putnam had been saying about civic responsibility in his 2001 book. However, his new book “Our Kids” actually touches on the Christian relativism, ‘judge not’ mentality problem even more insightfully, albeit unknowingly. There IS a cost to relativism that affects both the secular society AND the biblical church. Let’s see from the Bible what the cost to the church is when it sinks into ‘non-judgmentalism.’

We see that clearly in the letter from Jesus to the Church at Thyatira. The church there had refused to set moral, biblical standards. Jesus was angry that they were tolerating sin. They were too tolerant, just like the ‘judge not!’ crowd screeches at the Christian who attempts to set biblical standards of morality. We all know Jesus did not mean for that to become a cover for their own immoral behavior.

The church at Thyatira was commended for being loving, faithful, having a service-oriented attitude, and for their perseverance. They were the only church to be so heartily praised in such a wide range of attitudes. (Revelation 2:18-19)

The problem at Thyatira was that they were tolerating a false prophetess. They were tolerant. This false prophetess, metaphorically named Jezebel, was declared to be leading the Thyatirans to idolatry, apostasy and infidelity (of the Lord).

Being busy, serving, loving, and persevering is not enough, if sin is allowed to take hold. The situation was so serious, Jesus promised that unless the Jezebel false prophetess repented and her followers with her, He would —

–throw her onto a sickbed,
–and those who commit adultery with her He will throw into great tribulation,
–and He will strike her children dead. (Revelation 2:20-23)

THAT is how seriously Jesus takes sin in the church. Tolerant love is no love at all, if it includes allowing false wolves to lead people away from Jesus.

Within the church, failure to set a moral standard based on His word brings death, either through the wages of sin or via direct intervention from Jesus. Outside the church, even secular people wonder about the long-term effects of a general lack of agreed-upon moral standards, as Mr Brooks stated in his NY Times article here,

People sometimes wonder why I’ve taken this column in a spiritual and moral direction of late. It’s in part because we won’t have social repair unless we are more morally articulate, unless we have clearer definitions of how we should be behaving at all levels.

Yet of late, the rapid decline in morality has occurred precisely because of a general refusal- in the church and out- to define morality and to stick by the standards. It must be acknowledged that in order to function effectively, a society needs to have moral standards, and these standards need to be agreed upon. Where does on obtain a moral standard? They ALL originally came from God.

At no time in any epoch and at no place upon the earth did all people ever agree on the truth…but enough people agreed so that the false ones felt pressure to conform at least superficially to the moral standards the bulk of society lived out. Now, since no one agrees even upon the basics, such as ‘what is marriage?’, it’s a free-for-all.

Yes, failure to “judge” immoral behavior in the church angers Jesus. That was a problem in Corinth. Paul charged the Corinthians for failing to specifically articulate a moral standard about incest and adultery. A man had his father’s wife, and all the church AND the pagans knew it. (1 Corinthians 5:1). The Corinthians ‘did not judge,’ and the problem grew scandalous and destroyed their witness. Failure to live by Christian boundaries then leaks over into the world, where even the peer pressure to even pretend to be moral declines and eventually evaporates. Pretty soon, the tipping point is reached where no one will stand up for any standard at all, and all is deemed good and acceptable.

We are called to be a holy people so as to be pure for Jesus and to be an example to the people of the world. (Romans 11:13-16; 1 Corinthians 10:33). A young Christian lady who remains a virgin is committing a moral act, all the brighter for the darkness that surrounds her. A married Christian man who doesn’t look at porn, or tell dirty jokes at work, is committing a moral act. Couples who stay together and don’t divorce are performing a radical, moral act.

In a healthy society, social morality is comparatively “thick.” One consequence of the cultural revolution of the 1960s was a weakening, a thinning out, of social morality. The result is that the standards of right and wrong are reduced to the minimalist test of whether a particular action is legal. This is an unthinkable degradation of standards from the America of earlier periods, when society assumed that an individual’s moral responsibilities encompassed far more than merely observing the law. The decline in social morality and the rise of legalism are illustrated in Figure 1.2 below. (Source)

Christians who speak out against sins like fornication, homosexuality, divorce, gossip, anger, impetuousness, fiscal irresponsibility … are doing Christ’s work by pointing to His moral lines He has set. Further, as Putnam said, we need a moral vocabulary. In the Christian world, call sin as sin, not a mistake, or a stumble. It is up to us to set the lines and stay behind them, because we know where they are.

–we have an absolute line, it does not move nor does it change with the culture. Share it.
–call sin what it is: sin. Use the word.
–call it out in the church. When Ananias and Sapphira were killed by Jesus on the spot for being hypocrites and liars, all who heard of it feared greatly. The church grew. (Acts 5:1-10, Acts 6:1). Paul opposed Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11). Peter called out Simon the magician and exhorted him to repent. (Acts 8:20).
–live morally in the world. We are meant to be the Light in the world, our own sin and non-judgmental tolerance doesn’t help anyone. Tolerating sin dims our Light.

Non-judgmentalism has a cost. Yes, we are living in a time that is pretty bad, morally speaking. Perhaps even worse than the well known immorality of the Corinthians lived among. Pastor Phil Johnson thinks so. I do too.

Again, as Mr Brooks said in his review of Putnam’s book,

The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens…They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another.


My son, if you receive my words

and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

(Proverbs 2:1-2, 9-10)

Posted in biblical worldview, immorality, judge not, morality, putnam, society

The plague of non-judgmentalism

Interesting that yesterday I wrote about the “judge not!” crowd. Today I saw on my twitter stream a new essay by Gene Veith, titled “Class, children, & the social costs of nonjudgmentalism.”

The Veith title and the essay itself is based on the work of Robert Putnam, “a very important social scientist”, who has written a new book called Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. It deals in part with what happens to a society that refuses to hold anyone else to a moral standard. The collapse of moral standards (in the face of unwillingness to call out bad behavior and set expectations for good behavior) is causing a crisis among families. We do feel sympathy for latchkey kids, abused kids, families split, drug culture ruining lives. NY Times columnist David Brooks opined about “Our Kids”,

But it’s increasingly clear that sympathy is not enough. It’s not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles; it’s norms. The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens. In many parts of America there are no minimally agreed upon standards for what it means to be a father. There are no basic codes and rules woven into daily life, which people can absorb unconsciously and follow automatically.

Reintroducing norms will require, first, a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed because of people with bad values. They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another. People got out of the habit of setting standards or understanding how they were set.

I am familiar with Putnam’s work, most notably his 2001 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

Six months ago I referenced Putnam’s earlier work from Bowling Alone in a blog essay, Churching Alone: The Collapse of American Churches. I’d written about the lack of a thriving biblical presence in communities, the Christian parallel to what Putnam had been saying about civic responsibility in his 2001 book. However, his new book “Our Kids” actually touches on the Christian relativism, ‘judge not’ mentality problem even more insightfully, albeit unknowingly. There IS a cost to relativism that affects both the secular society AND the biblical church. Let’s see from the bible what the cost to the church is when it sinks into ‘non-judgmentalism.’

We see that clearly in the letter from Jesus to the Church at Thyatira. The church there had refused to set moral, biblical standards. Jesus was angry that they were tolerating sin. They were too tolerant, just like the ‘judge not!’ crowd screeches at the Christian who attempts to set biblical standards of morality. We all know Jesus did not mean for that to become a cover for their own immoral behavior.

The church at Thyatira was commended for being loving, faithful, having a service-oriented attitude, and for their perseverance. They were the only church to be so heartily praised in such a wide range of attitudes and plaudits. (Revelation 2:18-19)

The problem at Thyatira was that they were tolerating a false prophetess. They were tolerant. This false prophetess, metaphorically named Jezebel, was declared to be leading the Thyatirans to idolatry, apostasy and infidelity (of the Lord).

Being busy, serving, loving, and persevering is not enough, if sin is allowed to take hold. The situation was so serious, Jesus promised that unless the Jezebel false prophetess repented and her followers with her, He would —

–throw her onto a sickbed,
–and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation,
–and I will strike her children dead. (Revelation 2:20-23)

THAT is how seriously Jesus takes sin in the church. Tolerant love is no love at all, if it includes allowing false wolves to lead people away from Jesus.

Within the church, failure to set a moral standard based on His word brings death, either through the wages of sin or via direct intervention from Jesus. Outside the church, even secular people wonder about the long-term effects of a general lack of agreed-upon moral standards, as Mr Brooks stated in his NY Times article here,

People sometimes wonder why I’ve taken this column in a spiritual and moral direction of late. It’s in part because we won’t have social repair unless we are more morally articulate, unless we have clearer definitions of how we should be behaving at all levels.

Yet of late, the rapid decline in morality has occurred precisely because of a general refusal- in the church and out- to define morality and to stick by the standards. It must be acknowledged that in order to function effectively, a society needs to have moral standards, and these standards need to be agreed upon. Where does on obtain a moral standard? They ALL originally came from God.

At no time in any epoch and at no place upon the earth did all people ever agree on the truth…but enough people agreed so that the false ones felt pressure to conform at least superficially to the moral standards the bulk of society lived out. Now, since no one agrees even upon the basics, such as ‘what is marriage?’, it’s a free-for-all.

Yes, failure to “judge” immoral behavior in the church angers Jesus. That was a problem in Corinth. Paul charged the Corinthians for failing to specifically articulate a moral standard about incest and adultery. A man had his father’s wife, and all the church AND the pagans knew it. (1 Corinthians 5:1). The Corinthians did ‘not judge,’ and the problem grew scandalous and destroyed their witness. Failure to live by Christian boundaries then leaks over into the world, where even the peer pressure to even pretend to be moral declines and eventually evaporates. Pretty soon, the tipping point is reached where no one will stand up for any standard at all, and all is deemed good and acceptable.

We are called to be a holy people so as to be pure for Jesus and to be an example to the people of the world. (Romans 11:13-16; 1 Corinthians 10:33). A young Christian lady who does not sleep with her boyfriend is committing a moral act, all the brighter for the darkness that surrounds her. A married Christian man who doesn’t look at porn, or tell dirty jokes at work, is committing a moral act. Couples who stay together and do not divorce are performing a radical, moral act.

In a healthy society, social morality is comparatively “thick.” One consequence of the cultural revolution of the 1960s was a weakening, a thinning out, of social morality. The result is that the standards of right and wrong are reduced to the minimalist test of whether a particular action is legal. This is an unthinkable degradation of standards from the America of earlier periods, when society assumed that an individual’s moral responsibilities encompassed far more than merely observing the law. The decline in social morality and the rise of legalism are illustrated in Figure 1.2 below. (Source)

Christians who speak out against sins like fornication, homosexuality, divorce, gossip, anger, impetuousness, fiscal irresponsibility … are doing Christ’s work by pointing to His moral lines He has set. Further, as Putnam said, we need a moral vocabulary. In the Christian world, call sin as sin, not a mistake, or a stumble. It is up to us to set the lines and stay behind them, because we know where they are.

Holly Hunter’s character Jane Craig said to William Hurt’s character Tom Grunick in the movie Broadcast News, when Tom breached ethics and faked a news spot, “You crossed the line!” Grunick responded,

“It’s hard not to cross it–they keep moving the little sucker, don’t they?”

Non-Christians are confused as to what morality is and what a moral life lived out looks like. The takeaway for us is:

–we have an absolute line, it does not move nor does it change with the culture. Share it.
–call sin what it is: sin
–call it out in the church. When Ananias and Sapphira were killed by Jesus on the spot for being hypocrites and liars, all who heard of it feared greatly. The church grew. (Acts 5:1-10, Acts 6:1). Paul opposed Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11). Peter called out Simon the magician and exhorted him to repent. (Acts 8:20).
–live morally in the world. We are meant to be the Light in the world, our own sin and non-judgmental tolerance doesn’t help anyone. Tolerating sin dims our Light.

Non-judgmentalism has a cost. Yes, we are living in a time that is pretty bad, morally speaking. Perhaps even worse than the well known immorality of the Corinthians lived among. There was a line that even the pagans didn’t cross, that the Corinthians tolerated,

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” (1 Corinthians 5:1)

I say worse, because it seems that we tolerate that kind of thing pretty well now. We also have the world’s first three-way gay marriage, government approval of three-person genetic babies, polyamorous parenting, and more. Again, as Mr Brooks said in his review of Putnam’s book,

The health of society is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens…They were destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism, which refused to assert that one way of behaving was better than another.

Christians, ASSERT. One way of behaving IS better than another, and it’s better because one way of behaving pleases God more than another. We know the line, we know the standards, we have the vocabulary. Do not fall into the pit of non-judgmentalism. Someone’s soul could depend on being honest, clear, and forthright about right and wrong, morality and immorality. His word is the benchmark, the line, the standard of morality and every good thing. See the ‘if-then’ statement of Proverbs-

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;

Then you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

(Proverbs 2:1-2, 9-10)

Posted in church, encouragement, end time, fellowship, gather together, prophecy, putnam

Churching Alone: The Collapse of American Churches

In 2000, an important book was published. Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

Since the founding of America, we as a nation have always emphasized the importance of a strong and active civil society to the consolidation and perpetuation of democracy. When Thomas Paine wrote “Common Sense” before the American Revolution, people grabbed up his pamphlet and brought it to the tavern to discuss. Taverns and public squares were abuzz with discussions of ideas, concepts, philosophies. A robust public conversation with personal engagement among neighbors was the foundation of democracy.

I grew up in Rhode Island, the 13th state in the American Colonies, a place where there are more pre-colonial buildings still standing than anywhere else in the US. The first American Jewish synagogue is in Newport. (Touro). The first Baptist church is in Newport. A letter written in 1790 from George Washington to the RI Hebrew Congregation, assuring them, citizens of a newly independent United States, of tolerance and freedom of religion. Washington wrote,

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

But back to the old days. Men discussed ideas together in public spaces- taverns, the town square, the general store, front porches. They argued, persuaded, they met, they wrestled with ideas and formed community. It was that wrestling and knitting that made us strong enough as a collective of disparate farmers, millworkers, sailors, and the like, to dare to poke the eye of the mighty United Kingdom, and fight for freedom, including freedom to assemble and freedom to worship.

In this paper, the Daily Life of the American Colonies: The Role of the Tavern in Society Noon Inn Barroom, we learn of the importance of a citizenry discussing ideas together,

In the century or so leading up to the Revolution, colonial taverns and inns were an essential part of the community. Horses need frequent rests, travel by coach and horseback were far from comfortable. In Massachusetts on the roads leading to Boston, taverns and inns were spaced about every eight miles, which worked out to a reasonable journey in the winter cold before a person needed to warm up, inside and out.

The main reason for the importance of the colonial era tavern was as a social hub. Issues of the day were discussed and hammered out here, in fact, often in official settings. The City Tavern in Philadelphia, was the site of the first continental congress. The Virginia legislature met in the taverns of Williamsburg. And the initial investigations of the Salem Witch trials were supposed to be held at Ingersoll’s ordinary, [a name for a small tavern] though it was in the end was too small for the crowds.

To the common man, the tavern was where you learned the current prices for your cash crops. It was where you could find a newspaper, often read aloud for those who couldn’t read. It’s where local issues were debated and local governments met. The colonial era tavern was the link to the outer world for those in rural areas, and a place where you could meet your neighbors for conversation, games and diversion.

Entertainment included gambling; on horse racing, cockfights as well as cards. Actually the colonists were known to gamble on almost anything, including guessing the weight of pigs, a practice eventually outlawed on Long Island as it led to too many fights. The tavern also served as courthouse, where you learned of new business opportunities and worked out trades with your neighbors.

The tavern also served as post office. Originally the practice was to put your posts on a table, which travelers would then take along the route with them. It was commonly accepted that the travelers had the right to read your mail, providing a bit of entertainment along the way. Mail arrived in the community in the same way that it left, eventually becoming more organized and efficient.

In addition, recruitment and deployment of the militia took place in the taverns. Prior to the battle of Lexington, the militia organized and fortified themselves at Buckman’s tavern, before marching out onto the Lexington Green and into the history books.

In Newport RI, where our family would often drive on a Sunday, the White Horse Tavern still stands. It was constructed before 1673, is one of the oldest tavern buildings in the United States. It is located on the corner of Farewell and Marlborough streets in Newport. We used to eat brunch there. I’d sit in one of the many small rooms, with small fireplace blazing, hardwood floors and ladderback wooden chairs, and wonder about the Colonists who lifted a tankard in debate as to whether to separate from England.

In Wikipedia it is stated,

“In the first half of the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville had observations about American life that seemed to outline and define social capital. He observed that Americans were prone to meeting at as many gatherings as possible to discuss all possible issues of state, economics, or the world that could be witnessed. The high levels of transparency caused greater participation from the people and thus allowed for democracy to work better.”

White Horse Tavern, Newport, in 2009. Wikipedia

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42 KJV)

If the foundation of a democracy was forged by citizens together in community, discussing things of import, ideas traded, dispensed with, held onto; how much more should those behaviors be replicated in the church? Where do the community of Christ’s members gather, discuss, flesh out biblical ideas, knit ourselves together in His name? Where are the robust discussions, healthy praises to Jesus, songs and fellowship? Because it’s not in church. And increasingly, it’s not in homes, either. Forget the public square, if a gathering occurs, say at Cracker Barrel, the talk is rarely biblical. Other times, Christians are prevented from speaking of Jesus in public.

Public domain

Corporate worship is extremely important. In this sermon by Phil Johnson called A Foretaste of Glory Divine. Pastor Johnson explains the verse from Psalm 122.

Notice the plural pronouns in the first two verses: “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem.” One of the distinctive joys David is writing about here is the corporate nature of this worship experience. He had spent much of his youth alone on the hills tending sheep and meditating on the truth of God in solitude and that’s certainly a good and valid exercise. But it cannot take the place of fellowship and public worship with the multitude of God’s people. That is why the feasts were so important in Israel. Verse 4: “The tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD–An ordinance for Israel–To give thanks to the name of the LORD.”

And,

There’s a sanctifying influence in the gathering of believers that you will not benefit from if you think watching a church service on TV or streaming church on the Internet is a valid substitute for real live participation in the public worship of God’s people. Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

There are two problems in today’s ‘churching alone’ era. One is that people increasingly satisfied to stay at home and watch someone on TV or streamed online. The second and the greater problem is that when people do attend church for any reason at any function, rare is the talk of doctrine. We might sing some ‘me-oriented’ songs, listen to a (too-short/self-help/topical) sermon. And then when the last ‘Amen’ is said, people are out the doors, never to speak of Jesus again until next week.

When believers gather these days, too often it is not really to worship God but merely to entertain one another. ~Phil Johnson
What are we losing by ‘churching alone’? What are the effects on the church when its members forgo social intercourse, fellowship, and good discussions and praises to the Lord? Wikipedia summarizes Putnam’s book,

Putnam surveys the decline of “social capital” in the United States since 1950. He has described the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to found, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives. He believes this undermines the active civil engagement which a strong democracy requires from its citizens.

iPhone wallpaper

When we ‘church alone,’ whether at home or alone as an island at church, our biblical lives are not enriched. When we are not educated in biblical literacy, we weaken. When we are weak, the scarlet thread of our lives that should be evident when we gather with others isn’t connected. And the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 4:12,

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

If Putnam’s notion of social capital is an investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace, then in the church world, social capital is investment in spiritual-social relations with expected returns in the church. In Acts 2 we see the priority of fellowship, and along with that came praise for the Lord. (Acts 5:42)

It seems clear that the more we meet in His name, breaking bread, having fellowship, and discussing His doctrine, then the more we have glad hearts, generous spirits, and praise for Jesus on our lips. It stands to reason that the opposite is true too; less we get together, the fewer times we discuss His doctrines, break bread, and have glad hearts, and thus we praise Him and proclaim Him less.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)

And truth be told, if we do get together, how often do we really discuss His doctrines as the verse in Acts 2:42 states the first church did? Not a lot.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. (Proverbs 18:1)
Yet personal engagement at an all-time low. The previous networking availabilities in church, such a personal visits, dinners on the ground, home gatherings, have gone the way of the dinosaur. People don’t do that anymore. We do not ‘continually devote ourselves to… fellowship.’

More often than not, the way this generation engages today is via social media online. Visiting in person is a relic from the past.

What do colonial times in the 1770s to 1800 have to do with today’s church? Cut to 100 years later, the 1900s. There was still a public square. Before television, before the internet, people sat and talked. They had coffee. They visited. They had Sunday suppers. They sat by the pot bellied stove at the feed store and talked. People played bridge, gathered for parties, told stories. They discoursed.

The iconic Andy Griffith show reflected this reality- front porch sitting was a favored past time.
It was a time when people were invested in each other’s lives. They know when someone wasn’t feeling well. Or wasn’t themselves. They knew when someone was struggling. They celebrated victories and pitched in during hard times.

We have lost that.

We’re “crazy busy” now.

Yet the youngsters don’t know any other way of engaging except what they see online or through their parents or other trusted adults. They think fellowship is gathering at a google hangout.

I’m not saying anything that is unknown to anyone living in the year 2014. It’s old news that we do not socialize anymore. Here is the new news. New, at least to me.

We are forgetting HOW to socialize.

The influence of personal cellphones and texting have infiltrated our psyche to the extent that front porch sitting, passing the time, just being with someone is a lost art.

If people socialize at all in person now, it includes a phone interruptions and texting, looking at email, or a myriad of other things that distract from looking fully into someone’s eyes and listening to what they are saying with full attention.

This is my favorite episode from Andy Griffith. A business man in a hurry breaks down in Mayberry on a Sunday. Initially chafing at the slow pace of life and the almost uniform commitment by its inhabitants to the priority of fellowship on the Lord’s Day, the man eventually succumbs to the love shown to him- and he slows down.

Will you visit someone this week? Will you sing with them, or speak of the glories of our savior, or read the bible together? Will you linger at church for a while afterward and praise the sermon and flesh out some of its points- coming to happy agreement with a fellow believer? Let us not “church alone.” The foretaste of glory divine Mr Johnson was preaching on is the corporate gathering of believers on earth being the glad foretaste of the gathering in praise of all of history’s saints at the end of time. What a true foretaste- glorying in the Lord together, never alone forevermore.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Man in a Hurry- full episode