Cocoons serve to protect young pupae until they are ready
to break free into beautiful butterflies.
Every young Christian needs a place to grow and learn in an environment
where it is safe to fail. Failure is
inevitable for the Christian if he truly seeks to live as a follower of
Jesus. Failure isn’t necessarily about sin;
it is about trying new things, being faced with conflicting situations, and
being forged in the process of life.
As a new believer venturing into the arena of collegiate
academia I was not adequately prepared for the onslaught of an antagonistic
worldview. At the University of South
Florida I endured the rants of an English professor who loathed Christians and a
science department that was vocally dismissive of faith. But it wasn’t until I entered the theatre
department that I found my most challenging situation.
Our puppet troupe was performing for local elementary
schools the “Jungle Book.” It was an
elaborate production of puppets and humans, and our largest puppet was Kaa, a
30-foot python. I was asked to accompany
three other puppeteers to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia to
demonstrate how we manipulated Kaa.
Since becoming a believer I had not been surrounded by
such a culturally diverse group of people who didn’t believe in Jesus. My colleagues consisted of a young man who
played Mowgly and was gay, a large boisterous fellow who played Baloo, and a
beautiful young lady who was an ardent feminist. Mowgly had friends in Atlanta where he stayed,
and the rest of us shared a single room.
I was not going to sleep with Baloo, and knew it wasn’t appropriate with
the young lady, so I volunteered to get a rollaway.
Intimidated was an understatement, but I was determined
to live my faith in front of them, and the only way I knew how was to read my
bible. So each morning I opened my bible
and attempted to concentrate on my devotions.
One morning, and I can’t remember what I was reading; my two roommates
approached me and asked what I was doing.
I explained, and they engaged me in a conversation about faith, science,
morality, and I was dumbfounded. They
seemed to know more about my faith than I, but they were arguing against
it. I sat there speechless.
Feelings of anger, bitterness, and resentment simmered
inside, not at my roommates, but at the church for failing to prepare me for
such an ordeal. Why hadn’t they grounded me better, or maybe it was because
they couldn’t. The Sunday after
returning from the conference I sat in the back of the sanctuary with my friends. As the pastor preached I
quietly, but loud enough for my friends to hear, mocked what he was
saying. After the service the oldest
daughter of my adopted family confronted me.
“What is wrong with you, Paul?” I
spewed my feelings as she and the others patiently listened. The only response that I remember was, “What
you need to do is go to Bible College.”
There was no question in my mind that was what I needed
to do. When I told my mom what my plans
were her only response was, “We wondered when you were going to do something
like that.” God’s sovereign hand was
guiding me in the direction of his choosing.
Did the church fail me?
Maybe, or maybe I wasn’t listening.
All I know is that I was determined not to face that kind of situation
again unprepared. The Apostle Peter
instructed his congregation,
ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the
hope that is in you.
difficult to face the reality of an imperfect church, but that isn’t why I hate
church. I’m just saying…