We’ve all heard that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
So when our dog Lexi first came to us from her foster home in
Tennessee, Sue and I signed her up for obedience training right
away. The trainer quickly impressed upon us the importance of several training principles, including repetition and consistency.
But just as important is context. If you train your dog in the same environment all the time it will think that the rules only apply
there and nowhere else. So it is critical to do training exercises in a variety of locations and situations. The same principle applies to
being part of a church. Our Christian identity is shaped by what we
do together as a church: worship, prayer, study and service. But do
we take what we learn in church into other contexts? Or do we fall
into believing that following Jesus’ teaching and example only
applies to what we do “in church”?
The New Testament Letter of James warns: “For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror, for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.” Being part of a church reminds us that we are to imitate Jesus by loving and serving others. But it is when we are physically apart from the church that we put what we have learned into action. Summer is the season where church attendance and activity typically decline, as many people are vacationing and travelling this time of year. But being “doers of the word” is not something from which we take a vacation.
That includes continuing to support the work of the church during the summer months by keeping the ministry of the church in your prayers and by remembering to maintain your financial support for the work of the church. Opportunities to live by the Spirit are waiting for us wherever we go. May you enjoy a safe and relaxing Summer. And may you learn to practice the same old tricks of following Jesus, in new contexts.