Then you know I am a very feeling oriented person. I am happiest if I know I have pleased you. If what I have done does not please you, I am in a blue funk for days. In light of that, I have been struggling with what some people felt towards the Rally and the fact that I had attended it. That was until I picked up a book given to my husband one day two weeks ago. The author of this book is Robert Hobson,, and he himself gave it to my husband when he visited his office. Stan read it and told me it was an amazing book. I picked it up this morning and have only read three chapters. I have found my answer to my taking part in the Rally though. In my heart, I knew I had done nothing wrong, but you know how those "feelings" can work on you. I want to share the first chapter with you. It is a bit long, but I hope you will bear with me and read it.
The plane dipped its wing and there it was, the village of Hoskins, New West Britain, Papua New Guinea. I could not believe that I was on the mission field where my friends Ken and Stephanie are missionaries along with their two youngest children. The three oldest were attending school in Goroka.
After lunch we were enjoying a bit of nostalgia regarding Stephanie's parents, when in the midst of our laughter, Joel came into the living room. With a rag doll under one arm and a plastic horse under the other, he declared defiantly, "These are mine!" Okay, who cares? I thought. We laughed, ignored him and went on with our conversation.
However, I could not help noticing the look on his face. Such a fiercely determined, willful look of arrogance for such a little boy. There was no doubt to whom the rag doll and plastic horse belonged. The impact of that statement still lingers in my mind. Who cares to whom they belong? to Joel they were valuable, and he certainly did not want any misunderstanding as to whom was the rightful owner.
A rag doll and plastic horse. Their value? Not much. Yet the defiantly, Joel proudly declared ownership. There was no life in either of the two; that didn't matter. At that moment his whole life was wrapped in those two items.
We as Christians have our pet doctrines, evangelical cliches, theologies, denominations, evangelical phrases, hymns and choruses. Should anyone doubt their value, all one needs to do is challenge us and we will all hear along with Joel:
"These are mine! How dare you challenge the value of my personal 'evangelical' rag doll and plastic horse?"
What is the value of a rag doll and a plastic horse? There is no life in either. The rag doll could not speak or react. The plastic horse is unable to respond and certainly he couldn't ride it. But never mind.........."These are mine!" There is no truth in a rag doll and plastic horse, but nevertheless, "These are mine!"
Truth and value are unimportant to a three year old boy. What was important to him was ownership of two insignificant, lifeless objects. Ownership, not relationship. For a functional relationship to exist, there must be life from both sides. Otherwise it is not relationship, it is ownership of the worst kind.
The Lord Jesus did not die on the cross in order to provide for us a non-life or non-living relationship. He did not redeem us so that we in turn could pump out some nondescript meaningless relationship to Him and to others; to program ourselves and others into a man-made system of so-called "religious" spirituality.
The fact is that the Christian life can be simply summed up as a conglomeration of all of the above. We each have our own private "rag doll" and "plastic horse" that we value and trumpet as the "truth." We clutch the denominational rag doll to its death and ride that plastic horse as though it had life. We prop it up, program it, pump new blood into it, expecting it to come to life. There it stands, completely absolutely lifeless; but so very precious to us. All in the name of a rag doll and plastic horse that we call the Christian life.
These are mine!is nothing quite as important as a rag doll and a plastic horse, if you are three years old!
Thank you Robert G. Hobson for showing me someone else's rag doll and plastic horse in not necessarily mine. Now I must go read the 14 remaining chapters of Rag Dolls and Plastic Horses.