An Oak, or a Squash?

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24).
I confess I don’t know what to say when someone compliments me by saying: “I liked that sermon; it was so easy to understand.”
Does that mean complex ideas were expressed in a clear and understandable manner, or that I delivered a “sermon lite”?
Why do we put such a premium on ignorance? There was a time people read good books and thought things through. Now our belief systems are based on sound bites and bumper sticker slogans. The scary part is that so many Christians have decided that they know all there is to know about God’s will, judging by their failure to attend Bible class!
Should preachers dumb down their message, or err on the side of challenging a little too much? Bertrand Russell once declared: “Most Christians would rather die than think. In fact most do!”
If we don’t think, we will die. If we don’t study, our Christianity will become anemic. Christians could weather tough times better if their root system was already sunk deeply into bedrock when the storms came. Don’t assume that you know it all; that’s the first step to never growing.
Before he became president, James A. Garfield was president of Hiram College. One day the father of a student asked him about the curriculum. Garfield began to describe the courses and requirements.
“Mr. Garfield,” the father declared, “couldn’t you make it a little easier?”
“Yes, I suppose I could,” Garfield replied, “but then I am reminded of the fact that when God wants to build a tall, strong oak tree, he takes a hundred years. But he only takes three months to make a squash. Which do you want your son to be, an oak or a squash?”

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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One thought on “An Oak, or a Squash?

  1. Wonderful article! I see this everywhere and it breaks my heart. We have the reverse form of the Dark Ages today. People willingly refuse to study their Bibles. So sad.

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