Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Lesson by C. Kiesel  Posted by Hello

Even God Repeats Himself

Invariably, some inexperienced young philospher fresh out of college, will write and tell me that I'm repeating myself in my continual urging of returning to the hearth fires. After exhaustingly explaining that articles can be different, and have similar information, I've come to a different conclusion about this matter:

I've begun to question the orignial premise of such students: "You are repeating yourself." In any kind of training or teaching, repetition is important if the lessons are to be learned. A mother may be training her children to be polite, and find it necessary to remind them when situations come up, not to talk back, to pick up their things, to answer when spoken to, and so forth. Grown children may need to be reminded that there is a family event coming up, and it may need to be repeated, since there are those who are so preoccupied and so busy, they tend to forget.

Parents are not exhonerated just because they "already told" their children something. They are not free of responsibilty until they are sure the child heard, and understood. It isn't enough just to tell them what to do or how to behave. They are responsible to see that the lesson was learned and that the attitudes were changed, and this will take much repetition, even if done in creative ways.

When you enter a store or a fast food restaurant, you hear the same phrase each time:- How may I help you? This is a necessary way of getting their jobs done. It would be silly to tell them they are repeating themselves, and therefore, you will not engage in any kind of exchange with them. When you go to an airport, the flight information is repeated over an intercom. When you sing songs of praises on the Lord's Day assembly, you repeat the verses you have sung for many years. Life is full of repetition, and even God uses it to teach us the lessons necessary for our character growth and our actions.

We listen to the same music or songs, over and over, because we like them. I am not insisting that people should listen or read things that are vile or wrong. I am speaking here of good things. Many times people refuse to read something or hear something because they say it is "repeating itself," but in reality, they are refusing to listen, because they do not like it and have set up a resistance against it. This could concievably be rebellion, or it could just be an unintentional blind spot, or it could be due to the programming of other influences in their lives.

Biblically speaking, there are entire chapters in which the lesson is repeated:- sometimes in the same way, and sometimes in different ways-- but there is a valid reason for this: people tend to forget, as they go about their day to day activities, the principles that they need to live by. It takes repetition to remember your lines when doing videos or sermons, and it takes repetition to memorize verses of scripture that have meaning to you. To meditate on a scripture, it is necessary to look at the same sentence in many different ways. If you feel people are "repeating themselves" to you, it is possible you did not absorb the understanding they were trying to put across to you, and so they tried different ways of enlightening you to the message.

The practice of not reading or researching an issue because some of the material is repeated, is a smoke screen for not reading things carefully and looking for more. If a person is really wanting to research something, they will look into the matter in detail and not shun away from extra information, which often "repeats itself." There are those people who refuse to read an article, book, or watch a film "more than once" because they "already saw it once." They are missing out on the details that would become more evident to the the second time around.

To insist that others speak or write without repeating anything, shows a lack of knowledge of the effectiveness of repetition, and a closing of the mind.

Some of the more close-minded people who are reluctant to see the whole of things, may benefit from reading a book called, "The Closing of the American Mind" if such people could be brought
to read it. Click here for a review of this book Although it addresses the subject of how the mind of youth has been closed through educational practices, it is a starting point to understanding why even a vast amount of people now entering their 30's, do not look at all sides of things, and in particular, will not accept the Christian view.

There are those in this society who never seem to have victory over their anxieties, worries and fears, and never seem to be able to develop character qualities of self-control, or steadiness of behaviour. Upon further inquiry, it will be discovered that they were close-minded to studying more about the things that would help them, using the excuse that it "repeats itself." Perhaps one reason a generation fails to have stability is because the wise sayings that were repeated to previous generations, were not handed down to them. Common expressions such as "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," and "Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free," have to be repeated enough when applicable, in order for the next generation to have the wisdom to live their lives.

The lesson here is that if things do not in some way "repeat," the lessons are not effective. I recall one sermon I heard when I was young, called "Reconciliation." In it, the preacher repeated the concept of reconciliation with your loved ones, and with God, using many different illustrations, and the consequences of avoiding it. If anyone had asked me that week what the sermon was about, I knew without a doubt that it was about "reconciliation." Yet, today, due to the lack of repetiton, many people do not know for certain what the central theme of the sermon was.

I keenly remember an incident in a children's Bible story session that I had. I was teaching them with aid of the Betty Lukins vivid flannelgraph. It was a new year, and I wanted to start from the beginning of the Bible. I began to tell the story of Creation and of Adam and Eve. One child pouted and said to me, "I've heard that story already," and folded his arms across his chest in defiance. I answered him thus:

"Yes, you have probably heard this story before. I, too, have heard this story and told it many times. You will probably hear it many more times throughout your life, and before you die, but each time, you will see something more clearly that you had not noticed before. Throughout your life, you will also read the Bible through once a year. That means that if you live to be 80, and you started reading the Bible through each year at the age of 12, you will have read the same thing nearly a thousand times."

I then proceeded to tell the story of Adam and Eve with a different slant than he had previously heard. Of all the things that this couple was allowed to do in the Garden of Eden, there was only one thing they were forbidden by God to do.

There were many trees to eat fruit from. There were many things to do. There was a lot of freedom. Satan capitalized on the one thing they could not do, and caused Adam and Eve to take more freedom than they were given. In doing so, they lost everything else they were allowed to do. They lost their home where they were provided for. They now had to go out and fend for themselves and suffer to have children. In the same sense, when we take more freedom than our God-given authorities have allowed, we are in danger of losing other freedoms.

Let us suppose a young boy decides he doesn't like his father's rules, so he does not come into the house at night and go to sleep at a regular time. Instead, he worries his parents until they finally say, "You either have to come in at a certain time, or you have to leave. We cannot have this disturbance in our home." If the boy continues to take the freedom he was not given in the first place, he will lose the privilege of living at home, and have to go out and fend for himself. Or, let us use another illustration. Adam and Eve's taking of more freedom than they were offerred, can be like a person who mis-uses his freedom. He may offend his elderly parents because he rejects their influence or their stand on certain issues. Eventually, it will cause disruption between them and then estrangement. We must use our freedom carefully, to avoid hurting others and to avoid the consequences of Adam and Eve.

As you can see, I repeated a principle of this story in three different ways, in order to show the impact of it.

The belief that you cannot "repeat yourself" will bring disastrous results in raising your own children, for you must tell them the same things, patiently, over and over, and sometimes in different ways with different emphasis and different illustrations, until you can see that they have learned the lesson.

In the book of Jeremiah, you cannot get through a chapter without repeating something. This is because Jeremiah was trying to get it "in their heads." In the book of Acts, the Gospel plan of salvation is repeated many times. If you stopped people in church on their way out, and asked them what the plan of salvation was, could they repeat it? The only way they could, would be to hear it repeated, read it, and tell it themselves multiple times.

Let us be careful that we do not take up personal rules and beliefs, that will prevent us from hearing what will prevent us from losing our homes, our families, and our roles in life. I am not sure where this philosphy comes from, but it is a close-minded one. Such unfounded beliefs will result in a close minded generation that will lead us all into disaster.

Sunday, May 08, 2005