A week or two ago I came across a blog post that got me to thinking about how we respond when a meeting, church service, or even a Bible passage seems to apply to someone other than myself. When there is an ordination service or a Mother’s or Father’s Day message or children’s program, do I skip them because I am not a part of any of that?
I don’t think so. Here’s why:
1. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16-17. It is all profitable for me in some way even if the particular passage doesn’t seem to apply to me.
Some years ago the pastor of the church where we were at the time read a few verses from Exodus with instruction about oxen. He asked, “Do any of you own an ox?” No one raised their hands.
He then asked, “How many of you have even seen an ox?” One or two raised their hands.
“So,” he said, “We should just turn the page and skip this passage, right?” No, we didn’t think so, but what do we do with that passage?
He then brought out several applications from the passage. For instance, someone who owned an ox that was known for trying to push people with its horn was more liable if it injured someone. So if we have, say, a dog with a tendency to bite, we are even more responsible to keep it from people it could hurt. Or, to apply it further, if our tail lights are out on our car, we’re liable if someone crashes into us because they didn’t know we were stopped or slowing down to turn, so it behooves us to keep up with those things.
2. It helps us understand our brothers and sisters in the Lord. I may not be a pastor or a husband or a mother, but the passages that talk about them help me understand their roles, not so I can form a checklist and note when they’re not getting it right, but so that I can pray for them, understand their problems, needs, and temptations, and encourage them. The Bible says the church is the body or Christ, and “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (I Corinthians 12:26).
3. Their position is under attack. Satan is not omnipresent, but he does get around, and he seeks to undermine everything God calls good. Any role or function within the church, home, or family as designed by God is under attack in some way or another. The blog post I mentioned at the beginning was complaining, in part, that the focus on married women and mothers in some women’s ministries left single ladies out. I do think that is a valid point: not all women are called to be married, not all mothers are able to stay home, and we need to find ways to minister to the whole scope of womanhood. However, there are particular ways marriage and motherhood are being particularly attacked and undermined in the world today, so we need to help support those roles.
4. I can learn something that applies to me even though the particular focus of the passage or sermon is for someone else. Loving one another as Christ loved the church is something that applies to us all, not just husbands, so I can take an illustration that may be particularly about husbands and learn something I need in loving others. Years ago in college we were encouraged to read a particular book about leadership which I gleaned a lot from even though I was not a leader at the time (and still don’t naturally feel inclined to be now).
This is not to say that I should attend every focus group within the church since we’re all part of the body of Christ. Some of those were created to handle specific concerns in a smaller group setting. But when a Bible passage or sermon or ladies’ meeting seems to apply to someone else, there is still much I can learn and benefit from if I have ears to hear and a heart to receive.