Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Wedding Ring: Is it Worth It?

~A precious little child at convention. I often look at such and wonder what life holds, what eternity holds for her.
I pray, "God, don't let me do anything that would influence one of your little ones in the wrong way."

I got home last night from a church convention. Called the Interchurch Holiness Convention, it is where several similar denominations come together for a few days of fellowship, inspiration, and corporate worship. Our family helps by running sound and recording all the services as well as producing a printed publication called the Dayton Daily.

This post won't mean much to some of my readers--it might even be confusing. Please understand, it is intended for my fellow CHM friends who have shared a similar heritage and know what has generally been believed and taught over the years in our "conservative holiness" churches. I am happy to answer (as best I can) any questions any reader might have, but I want to make sure you understand my intent.

When I attend these conventions, and as I observe the world of Facebook and blogging--where I'm connected with many CHM friends--I am often put to pondering for days on end over what is happening to the people who have been a part of my heritage. Often, my heart is heavy.

There is much confusion in our midst. Of course, this is true of the world at large, but the bigger world is not my focus here. So, the confusion... there is a slow. melting. away. Many of the youth of yesterday are gone. They have dissolved their relationships with most of the people I saw this week. They have moved into myriad other relationships, organizations, worldviews, and belief systems.

I sat in my chair one service this week when an old man slowly made his way to the platform. He was honored for his years of dedicated service to the cause of Christ. He has children, and though I don't know all of them, I wondered what this old saint was thinking about as he made the long walk to the front to be honored by his fellow believers. I don't believe his children were there. One I know would not be able to minister to the people at this convention anymore. He made a choice that would forever remove his ability to influence or help this crowd of over three thousand souls.

You see, the people from my heritage decided years ago that it would be helpful to them if they took the Apostle Paul's admonition seriously when he told young Timothy to instruct the people under his influence not to adorn themselves with gold and pearls and expensive clothing. So, my people taught generation after generation that this was a valuable admonition. It has become something by which we are identified. It is just one thing that helps us focus on what really matters, the eternal things. (I could say much more about this issue and issues like it, but once again, that is not the focus of this post.)

As I sat watching the scene, tears filled my eyes and dripped down my cheek. A question came to my mind, a question for those who have decided that their parents, their grandparents, and the many leaders of the CHM who taught them values like this were wrong. The question keeps coming back, and it haunts me.

"Was it worth it? Just to have a piece of metal wrapped around one of your fingers? When you get to the end of this short life and you look into forever and into the face of Jesus, do you really think having that piece of metal, at the expense of losing an influence over thousands of needy souls--for we're all needy; we need each other--will you think then that it was worth it?"

Things look so different when we get a glimpse of eternity. A lot of the confusion just falls away. The picture comes into focus and we realize exactly what we need to do.

Please understand my intent here. It is not to hurt anyone or put anyone down. It is to try to get the many who have made choices like this to re-think their decisions. I long to see them regain their place of influence. We need them. We need their gifts and talents, their expertise and motivation. And those who might be considering going the same direction, I pray you will consider, "is it really worth it?"

I pray this helps someone.