Maybe they were used by a husband and wife but I seriously doubt it. It reminds me of Proverbs 5 where the writer doesn’t deny that there is initial pleasure in the arms of the forbidden woman. Sex is pleasurable – the couple in the park probably enjoyed their brief time together.
But the writer of Proverbs goes on to say that the pleasures outside of God’s intention for sex within the covenant of marriage are very short lived.
At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction!Proverbs 5:11-12
Why do we set our sights so low? Hiding in the park? There must be more to sex.
But more importantly, I met a young man with a heart for God. Of course, I don’t know his heart (only God does), but I did meet a man who seemed serious and thoughtful about his faith. He expressed a compassion for the hurting, both physically and spiritually.
Skills can be learned and picked up through experience. But I cannot give a young man the willingness to humble himself before his Creator. If a future leader knows that he stands before God in need of the grace that only comes from Jesus, then he will be able to handle various stressful situations during an apprenticeship in London.
A person who is resting in God’s grace is able to grow as a humble learner because their identity is not completely tied to their performance. The more we know deep in our hearts that we are loved completely by our Creator, then the more our self worth is secure in the face of criticism, correction and even failure.
We are not looking for apprentices who have all aspects of their lives together, who have no doubts or questions and are secure in every way. But we are looking for apprentices who are willing to learn and have the spiritual understanding to allow that learning to happen when life doesn’t go as planned.
I don’t know if we’ll have a German apprentice next autumn, but from what I’ve observed, I believe he might get an invitation.
For the past few days, we’ve hosted a young German man who is interested in serving as an apprentice with us next year through Serge. He is a friend of a friend so as I waited for him at St. Pancras, I wondered what kind of 22 year old would we be hosting. Would he really be able to serve here in London?
What I learned about our visitor over the past few days leads me to conclude that yes – I’d like to see him here in London.
Why? For two reasons.
After high school, he spent his gap year working in rural Kenya with the German mission, Diguna. But what does working with orphan children in northern Kenya away from any large city have to do with working with youth and adults in London, a city of 10 million people?
There are skills working cross-culturally that he has learned which are transferable from one culture to another. Humility, a willingness to learn and an awareness of your own culture will help anyone connect with both Kenyans and Londoners. As a person learns to build friendships in one setting, they pick up skills which allows them to build friendships in another, even if those cultural settings are vastly different.
In my own life, there is no doubt that living in and working in an African-American community for many years prepared me for life in London. Those years of cultural missteps and learning from friends who were different from me, helped make the transition to multicultural London a little bit easier over the past six years. I’ve still made plenty of cultural mistakes over the years, but hopefully fewer than it could have been.
Are there people culturally different from you in your community? Make friends. Ask questions. Learn with humility. Think about your own culture as you learn from the new one. You may even pick up skills that could serve you in places beyond your imagination.
There was a second, more important reason that I think our German visitor would be effective in London. That post is here.
Tomorrow will be saying “goodbye” to our French exchange student who has been living with us for week.
We were a bit apprehensive before he arrived; “What are we going to do with a 16 year old French boy who doesn’t speak much English?” But we have enjoyed getting to know him through a combination of his limited English, my daughter’s limited French, hand motions, and even a little notepad because his writing is better than his speaking.
Relationships have deepened over laughter, food and football. But there is a depth of friendship that will never be attained because we don’t speak the same language. We’ve struggled to find out about his family, his favorite food or what subjects he enjoys in school. Relationships don’t go far on a vocabulary build after a few years of high school language classes.
In the debate among Christians between the proper place of words and deeds, the quote “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, is sometimes brought out against those who place a heavy emphasis on the role of preaching in the church. While I’m a “mercy guy” who has a high view of the church’s work in society, words are needed for God’s work to move forward for two reasons.
First, our care for others should be in the context of relationships as much as possible. Words are needed to build friendships with those we are serving. This is what separates the care given by the people of God from many (but not all) in the public social sector.
Secondly, the truth of what Jesus has done and is doing in the world contains concepts based on a historical reality which can only be communicated to others using language. God has revealed Himself in words (but not English words!) and we share this with others in the same way.
I am sad that our French student is leaving. I’m even more saddened that our relationship has been so limited. But I am so thankful that the German arriving tomorrow speaks English!!