On gratitude and priorities

There's been a lot of discussion in the last few weeks about how Christians should conduct ourselves as we debate questions of what might at one time have been called "things indifferent", like where you source your vegetables or how you treat illnesses or how you educate your children. 

I think it's fair for Christians to have these debates. It's worthwhile to discuss the issues, and iron sharpens iron. I also think that it's easy to make these debates more important than they should be, or to at least talk about them in ways that makes them sound too important. Most of it comes back to a question of how we order our loves. We need to love more important things more, and less important things less. 

Doug Wilson taught my freshman Lordship class at NSA, and he made a point then that is relevant now. He said that while he believed that churches should sing psalms in corporate worship, he would choose a faithful church that sang praise choruses over a decaying church that sang psalms. He had good support for the claim that we should sing psalms, and I don't think he's ever going to back away from that point. But it didn't stop him from saying we should prioritize living faith over worship styles. 

I think we need to clarify the same principles for any discussion, whether about food or education or whatever. What has been called "neighborly farming" in some facebook threads is probably preferable to non-neighborly farming. I mean, with language like that, who can disagree? But preferable above either is gratitude. A McDonald's chicken nugget received thankfully is objectively better for the eater than a homemade nugget from the chicken you raised in your backyard eaten with a holier-than-thou attitude.  And, of course, a McDonald's nugget eaten with a bad attitude is also rotten to the core; that bad attitude could be "I'm giving the finger to the hippies" or it could be "Ew, gross, this is nasty... Mom, why did you take the grandkids there?" 

I would say the same for Christian education: the essential thing is parental involvement. Kids who go to public school and have involved parents will be better off than ones who go to Logos and have parents who don't care. If we're talking about clothing standards, a fundamental principle would be kindness - kindness to people who don't wear enough clothes, and kindness to the people who might criticize you for your clothes, and kindness to all the people who feel like they have to stare at the ceiling. In the world of entertainment? How about self-control, which is the antidote to gluttony (indiscriminate or excessive consumption) and an antidote to vanity (consumption with the goal of acceptance in a particular set).

I would like to think that we've known this all along. The fruit of the Spirit is not organic, industrial, sustainable, genetically-modified, soy-free, deep-fried, public-schooled, Calvert, unschooled, local, or Chilean. These are the essentials: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, meekness, longsuffering. And above all these things put on love


Danae said...

Well said, Melissa, well said. I agree with you wholeheartedly!

Christy Kohl said...

Great post Melissa!