It is amazing the situations in our lives that God uses to teach us valuable lessons. I learned one of these lessons a couple weeks ago at the Verizon Store.
My cell phone was doing things without me asking. I rushed it to the Verizon store to have it checked. While I was waiting for my name to be called, I walked around the store looking at the different products. Each one was placed neatly on display with a long list of the services it provided. I understood little the displays shared. The longer I browsed the more confusing it became. The thirty minutes I spent observing made me thankful I was not going to have to make a decision on which phone to buy.
When my name was called, I walked up to the technician and handed him my phone. He asked, “What is the problem?” I replied, “My phone doesn’t work.”
The initial exchange was followed by a series of questions, which I could not answer. I explained I was interested in being able to call and get calls. I finally took the phone back and, without verbal explanation, demonstrated what it was doing. I pushed the key that said dial and an unfamiliar screen appeared.
After several more minutes of questions I could not answer, the technician informed me that my calibration was totally out of whack. At first, I thought this was a personal insult but then I realized he was talking about the phone’s calibration, not mine. After several more painful minutes, he determined the phone was without hope and gave me a new one.
By the time I got in my car, my blood pressure had subsided, not because I understood what had just taken palace but because I had a new phone. As I started the car, I began to think about how this experience had made me feel. Emotions such as helpless, inadequate, ignorant, foolish, stupid, and angry came to mind. As I reflected, it became clear there was a bigger lesson to be learned.
My bigger lesson was a new understanding of the discomfort some people feel, when they attend church for the first time. Everything is new to them. They are not sure what is coming next. They can be confused about when to sit and when to stand. The terminology is totally new to them. Take for example these words from the first verse of the old hymn, “There is a Fountain”:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
While these words bring comfort to the hearts of the believer, to the unbeliever without any fore-knowledge of the Christian message, they may sound more like lines from a horror flick than from a story of forgiveness and salvation. The list of things that look or sound strange to someone who has never been in a church setting and who knows nothing about the biblical story could go on and on.
My point is not that we should compromise the truth to make unbelievers feel more comfortable. I do not think we have to rewrite the hymn book and we certainly do not need to rewrite the Bible. (I am not speaking of different translations.) However, we do need to become more sensitive to the feelings of those who are totally unaware. We need to look for ways to tell the “Old, Old Story” in words that connect with the present generation.
Our missionaries understand the importance of this connection on the mission field. It is time we understand we are on a mission field. I believe we are the third largest mission field on the planet behind China and India. Is it not time we have the attitude of Paul found in I Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (NASB)?