What Would Grandpa Say?
editor's note: Published in the March 2016 issue of Think
magazine, used by authors permission.]
How Do You See Things?
by Jim Mettenbrink
a suit with necktie and a hat to worship was almost bred into us who were
children of the 1950s. And the tie had to be straight! All of
us boys wore them. There was not one Sunday for the first 19 years
I attended worship without a tie. Not once! To do so would have
made me the oddball, yea eight ball, among my peers, not to mention the
reaction of my parents by such a faux pas. That is how I would have
been seen. Thats how my parents and society generally saw things.
About 30 years ago grandpa wore a three piece
suit to worship. On one Sunday, I asked a brother, if he did not know
me and saw me in the street how would he see me. He said a lawyer
or an executive of a company. So I put on my Greek fishermans
cap and asked, Now what do I do for a living? Immediately,
I was a chauffeur. That cap changed how I would be viewed by society.
How did he come to that conclusion? The only chauffeur, I have
ever seen was in the movies. Note how dramatically the movies (media)
condition how we perceive people and situations. So thats how
we see things.
The most influential conditioning begins with
our parents beginning at birth and throughout our childhood. Perhaps
the strongest influence is that of the familys religion. Until
the subtle influence of Secular Humanism (each person is his own god
& makes his own religion) was foisted upon our society via the education
system (and all media) for the last 50 years, breaking away from
the family tradition was unthinkable. Its still that way in
Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim societies, even warranting death for those who
dare to stray. Thats how they see things.
Of all the hindrances to becoming a Christian,
Jesus cut right to the chase the most difficult obstacle For I have come to set a man
against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law
against her mother-in-law; and a mans enemies will be
those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than
Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than
Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow
after Me is not worthy of Me
(Matthew 10:35-38). To become a Christian and live faithfully
would be apostasy to many, if not most families, throughout the world. The
family is usually the most significant influence on how we see things.
Even after becoming a Christian, it took about
three years to purge my Lutheran upbringing of the doctrine of inherited
sin we are born sinners! It was all based on a misunderstanding
of Psalm 51:5 expressing Davids remorse over committing adultery with
Bathsheba ( Behold,
I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive meKJV). Three years to overcome
a family influence!
Some 15 years ago, grandpas mother asked
about the eternal state of the babies which are aborted. Grandpa knew
immediately what prompted that concern inherited sin! Still,
showing her from Gods word people choose to sin rather than inheriting
Adams guilt, did not cause her to change her thinking. Seventy
years of the familys influence and traditional religion. Because
thats simply the way she sees it.
All of us from childhood are taught to see
our condition, even our relationship to God, in a certain way. No
wonder, Gods instruction about lifelong faithfulness to Him was (is)
rooted in child rearing Hear,
O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be
in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and
shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a
sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You
shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; cf Ephesians 6:4).
Thats how God wants us to see things.
Are you certain, you are right in your faith?
Do you have the correct understanding of the Bible? Of how become
a Christian? Of how to live faithfully to glorify Jesus in
your life? Most of us go through life, believing and doing because
that is the way we were taught and have always done it. We do so because
thats the way we see things.
How can you know you are right in what you
believe and do? God has not left us in a lurch. He gave us the
Bible to explain our condition and how to accept His loving salvation. Mostly
folks view the scriptures from their rearing. Thats how they
see things. Do you see the scriptures correctly?
But what if you were wrong?
As grandpa mused in this column recently about
assuming the other fellow believes the way I do, i.e., because thats
the way we all see things, then each of us Christians needs to consider
how we see the Bible. For example, recently, grandpa asked several
Christians, What does it mean to repent? How do
you see that? Unanimously they said repent from sin. So I asked
What is sin? Lying, drinking alcohol, murder, rape
and stealing were among the various answers.
Take a moment to ponder what Jesus meant by
His command to repent in this scene? Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to
Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and
believe in the gospel
(Mark 1:14-15). What? I thought the five
hallowed steps, hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized were the
proper order to become a Christian.
The Greek word translated repent simply means
to turn. In Jesus day, it was used generally by the people for change.
The ancients meaning to repent included, to change plans, reconsider,
change intentions and return to better feelings. The prophet Isaiah
(46:8) used the word as bring
it to mind again (ASV), recall it to mind (most versions). Youngs Literal
Translation renders it turn
back. Josephus, the
Jewish priest and military general, used the word as a change of heart.
The essence of the word is to change resulting from a reflection of
something past. So what did Jesus mean when He commanded the people
to repent and believe the gospel (Mk 1:15)?
In order to answer that we must consider the
entire context. To whom was He speaking? Jews! He was
preaching about the good news of the kingdom (v14). What did
He mean by that? How did the Jews understand kingdom?
The Jews were anticipating the rise of a king to free them of Roman
rule. This is evident by the disciples question about Jesus
second coming just moments before He ascended into heaven Lord, will You at this time restore
the kingdom to Israel? (Acts
After three years of walking with Jesus teach,
perform miracles and seeing Him after His resurrection, they still had not
grasped the meaning of His kingdom. They still anticipated a king
of Davidic lineage. Why not expect such king? That was Gods
promise to David ...And
your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your
throne shall be established forever
(2 Samuel 7:12-17). Thus was the Jews national expectation,
and it was deeply ingrained into their thinking.
This is an implication in Peters sermon
on Pentecost. He focuses on David as the prophet who said Jesus would
be the king on the throne in heaven (Acts 2:25-36). Again,
what did Peter mean when he told the people to repent and be baptized for
the remission of their sins?
As Jesus began His ministry preaching, repent
and believe the gospel, likewise Peter made several points regarding
the Jews repentance:
must give up (turn from) 1500 years of following the Mosaic Covenant to
enter the New Covenant.
(2) They must
give up the belief an earthly king would arise to restore the kingdom of
Israel as in Davids day.
(3) They must
accept Jesus as their Savior and King reigning over His spiritual kingdom
from His throne in heaven. Hours before Jesus was crucified, He told
governor Pilate, My
kingdom is not of this world
So under divine inspiration Peter, was clarifying
what the kingdom is so the Jews would overcome 1500 years of how they saw
things. A repentance indeed!
Repentance actually begins by changing from
what or whom a person currently trusts, to trusting in Jesus faith.
Then the people and Saul asked Lord what would you have me to do? (Acts 2:37; 9:6;22:10). Grandpa
says, it is important to consider if how you see things is right, especially
when it comes to your eternity. Are you still relying on what you
were taught in your childhood or, what God teaches in His word? How
do you see things?