When I was a kid, Mum used to take us to the local Mormon (I HATE calling it a) ‘church’. We lived in a place called Canvey Island at that time. I can’t remember how long we went there. I was too young.
I remember they had what was known as Sunday School. Us kids were pushed out of the main hall to go to school while the adults did whatever they did.
It might have been something like a harvest festival we went to, once, as I remember lots of food. Can’t remember if we actually ATE anything! That was at night. That all eventually petered out and we no longer went anywhere.
It probably wasn’t too far further on in time that the family broke down completely. I have actually seen Roman Catholicism in action. At a convent called Nazareth House, (of all names!) we used to have to get up each morning, really early before school to say our morning prayers. I was never informed about, or taught how to say the ‘hail mary’s’ and never did learn the words. It was incredibly frightening if you were not heard saying your prayers. The nun in charge (Sister Josephine) would be after you with a scowl and some very hard words if you broke that law. I don’t know how I realised it, but I had to do something, so I tried, each morning, to mimic what the other girls were saying. I had to make some sort of vocal noise! I never was found out… Isn’t it dreadful when spiritual things are never spoken of. The good, or the bad…when you are young.
After leaving the convent to go back home, again, there was no more ‘church’ or prayer. Prayer was never instilled in us. Ever. It just wasn’t natural to pray. Oh, I suppose we might have had our bedtime prayers, but it wasn’t prayer, it was a request list to someone you couldn’t see while you didn’t know what on earth you were supposed to be doing.
But you WERE taught your manners.
The country was far better off, spiritually, when I was a kid. It was a far safer place to live in. At one school, you never had your dinner without giving thanks. It was the same grace every single time. The Headmaster would stand on the dais and say: “For what…” and us lot would follow on with the rest of it. “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.”
Why were we doing these things, and why was I never taught about Christ during those days? I had absolutely no idea what it was all about. But things WERE better in those days. People had manners. Good manners. If you were naughty at school; if your parents heard about it (and they would!) you got a spanking. If a copper gave you a clip round the ear for something, be sure, your Dad would give you another one when you got home. Backtalk your PARENTS? God forbid. You didn’t DARE.
It was probably creeping towards the late 70s when I first heard someone swear at a teacher. But people still insisted on going to church every week, whatever that meant.
As I grew older, things in my country started rapidly going downhill. One thing I remember, during the 80s is that suddenly, anywhere you worked, you were expected to call each other by your Christian names, rather than Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so. I really do believe the spiritual rot fully began after that happened. You no longer respected anyone, and everyone was ripe for abuse. Whether being sworn at, or punched in the face… I know these things always went on, but you never heard about it in the news. Now, and for at least the last two decades, if not longer; it’s become daily news-fare. What once used to shock, is now normal: even using a knife or a gun on someone. We’ve become used to it. Bye-bye,’good manners’. I grew up and grew old under that regime. Bad manners and people abusing each other, not caring how we spoke or what we did.
Someone in a sermon started reading 2 Timothy 3 and then commented: “I’ve just read you your morning headlines.” That’s a powerful, terrifying statement.
After a gutful of bad parenting and a completely split family who refuse to forgive each other, one day, my Mother, as usual, read me some Scripture. And, as usual, I wasn’t interested. Until one night…
That was five years ago. When you meet Christ properly, it’s a bit of an experience, I can tell you. You suddenly begin to learn what the Scriptures mean; Who Christ is, and why you should never walk away from Him.
There is a difference between someone who says they belong to Christ, and those who actually follow Him. Whether people still insist on going to church these days is a mystery to me, now. Those who love the Lord always want somewhere to go. Whether you get to find a Biblical gathering is anybody’s game, sadly. In the meantime, just as in my youth and being terrified of breaking the code of good manners, we should be even more terrified of turning our backs on Christ.
The governments, apparently, no longer allow praying in public, in many places. God forbid you should thank Him for a bite to eat when you’re at school, or so I’ve read. And woe betide if you should dare to TEACH His truth. Better to leave those good manners at home where they belong, and obey the faithless, seems now to be the order of the day. Whatever would those faithless do with Daniel if he was alive, now?
Someone should shout this from the rooftops: It’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of Almighty God. (Hebrews 10:31).