I was disturbed and humored reading this article about an incident of a home where police were called to because the mom was beating up her 17 year old son for not wanting to go to church. The humored part of my reaction might need a little explaining. It wasn’t the incident that had me giggling, more the way the incident was reported & some of the actions of the mom while police were on the scene.
While Maddox was speaking with the victim, Smith came out of the house but did not want to speak with the police.
“I am not here to talk, I am here to close the garage door,” she said to Maddox.
Maddox reported that Smith went back into the home and continued to act irrationally. He continually asked her to calm down so she could tell her side of the story. Smith was eventually handcuffed and led to the police car, while she continually called Maddox an “S.O.B”
Needless to say this family has some deeper issues than not going to church. However, church probably needs to pay a bit more attention to them as they are obviously hurting.
What this reminded me of was a conversation I had with a fellow youth worker some years ago. She was a super great person and was spending a 2nd career as a youth worker. She had spent her first career as a school teacher and a pretty well decorated one at that. Our conversations were many, but there was one statement she said that will probably always stick with me. As we were talking about kids showing up and participating she said “I have nothing to hold over these kids” (translation: she didn’t have school attendance, grades, etc. to mandate some participation). My response to this was, we are not supposed to hold anything over these kids. That, is part of the grace we offer and sometimes, many times, it is really hard because we want to have something to help us control others, but that is disingenuous to the way of Christ.
Reminds me of the time when Jesus encounters the ‘rich young man/ruler’ who states that he does all the right stuff and wonders what more is needed to get into heaven. Jesus throws down that he needs to give all his money to the poor (because he knows that the kids money is his real treasure). The rich youngster then walks away disappointed. If Jesus were some church or youth leader today he might have done something like “Oh wait, you can work on giving your money away. Hang out some more, we have a fun Uno game with the disciples that you could totally take out Peter with.” He doesn’t, he lets him walk on and in some translations it sounds as if Jesus is bummed about it.
But there is that grace given freely for those to move as are led. Not everyone is ready for the sacrifice of following Christ. And sadly, beating your kid into going to church is not a very graceful way of leading people to ‘The Way.’