My Parents' Loudest Lesson
by Thomas Loghry
It was another morning like any other. By some titanic feat, I managed to get myself out of bed to plod my way downstairs for breakfast. Breaking past the stairwell wall and coming to the railed banister, I could see my mom reading her Bible in the recliner as she always did, her little dog cuddled up beside her. It was just another day, same as any other.
There were other days too.
From my earliest years, I remember my parents getting me and my little sister all rustled up into our Sunday best for the early morning worship practice. We were always some of the first there and some of the last to leave. On occasion friends from the church would come over for lunch. That’s just how Sunday was.
I remember going to Men’s breakfasts with my dad and how special that felt.
I remember spending Spring, Summer, Fall, and even Winter days tagging along with my dad to upkeep a Christian campground that always needed keeping up.
I remember only missing church once or maybe twice in a year, often for vacation, but even in those instances occasionally visiting a friend’s church.
There are other days I remember and many others I have forgotten. Truth be told, I mostly just remember a certain pattern. My parents taught me some very important lessons growing up, but their loudest lesson was their way of life. They set before me not a set of isolated actions, not a mere virtuous example, but a way of being in Christ. From day one I knew the universe in which I lived was Christocentric and not self-centric. I knew this because of the way they lived.
In some sense, I have a built-in advantage when it comes to rearing my own son. I’m a pastor and we live next to the church building. I suppose the disadvantage is that he could one day write this all off as me just doing my job, but I hope my life never gives him that opportunity. Like most of you, my parents are not vocational ministers. My dad is a truck driver and my mom a nurse. Like them, you don’t have my built-in advantage. You don’t have the title of pastor and sadly the church often doesn’t have high expectations for you. If you manage to just get into church most Sundays, that’s good enough.
The truth is, it's not good enough.
The reality is that you could always get to church on time and still be the most self-centric person alive. You could line up a whole series of “Christian” activities and still be self-centric. The self-centrism remains so long as you remain the guiding center of your life. The quickest way you can tell if this is the case is if you are working the church around your life, rather than working your life around the church. I have always heard a lot of talk about having a God-centered life. It sounds good, but I don’t know how apparent the meaning is. More specifically, I think it should be said that our lives must be Christ-centered; more explicitly, it should be said that our lives must be Church-centered. Christ is God with us and the Church is His Body. Our lives should be consumed by the claims of that Body of which we claim to be members. We can only commune with God in the Body of Christ which has been given for us and in which we are now joined together. Our life is the Church, it is central and all-encompassing. If you claim that God is at the center of your life and yet the Church is not at the center of your life, you are worshipping another god.
If your way of life is self-centric rather than Christocentric/Church-centric, no amount of Sunday School or youth group will be able to teach your children a different way of life. In truth, the child of unbelievers is better positioned to perceive the Christian way of life than the child of believers who have merely added Christ as some object to orbit about their lives. The child of such believers will likely be brought up with a skewed understanding of Christ. If the self remains at the center, it should be no surprise if the child eventually lets Christ fly out of orbit once his gravity appears too burdensome.
Removing yourself from the center is a daily struggle. It cannot be achieved by latching onto some set of rules or rushing into a flurry of church-activity. It can only properly begin with a surrender that looks like death. It can only continue with a prayer for love, a love for Christ and his Church. It can only increase in the company of brothers and sisters, members of Christ’s body. It will only be fully realized at the day of Christ’s return, when “God will be all in all”. Your way of life is your loudest lesson. Teach it well.
 I’m not denying here the central role of the Father and the Spirit in our lives. I fixate on Christ because he is the point of contact between God and Man and the one whom we are called to follow.