Michael J. Brooks
I didnâ€™t intend to start a civil war that Sunday morning, so I carefully explained why I held an Auburn football helmet in my hand. I told the congregation that it was the story behind the helmet that I wished to share.
A member of our church, Robert, displays the helmet in his â€œAuburn roomâ€ at home and told me how he obtained it. He stood on the practice field one day watching the team when a player angrily confronted the coach, threw his helmet on the ground and stormed off.
He was no longer on the team. Robert asked his friend, coach Tommy Tuberville, if he could have the helmet and it was his.
The question I posed is, â€œWhose shelf should this helmet be on?â€
Of course, the answer is that it should be on that young manâ€™s shelf as a treasured memento from his days of being in a great school and playing on a great team. What stories he could share with his children and grandchildren! However, the helmet is a reminder of a quitter who walked away.
On that day I preached about John Mark. According to Acts 13:13 he left Paul and Barnabas on what we call Paulâ€™s first missionary tour. We donâ€™t know why he left, but, fortunately, he later reconciled to both men and is remembered as a gospel writer.
More recently when I reminded our church about the helmet I preached about Demas, another of Paulâ€™s companions. Heâ€™s mentioned in two places as a champion for Christ.
But when Paul languished in a Roman prison, he sadly wrote, â€œDemas has forsaken me being in love with the present worldâ€ (2 Timothy 4:10). Demas was a quitter. He abandoned both the gospel and his gospel mentor in his hour of greatest need.
Church rolls are filled with names of quitters. These are people who used to be faithful and who used to be excited about the Lordâ€™s work. Perhaps, like Demas, they became selfish and materialistic.
Or maybe they found the worldâ€™s opposition to a life of holiness too great to sustain. Or more likely, they quarreled with other Christians and didnâ€™t find reconciliation.
The old Church Covenant speaks a word about reconciliation: â€œWe also engage . . . to avoid all
tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay.â€
The work of the gospel is too important to cast aside in a pique of anger. Forgiveness is the oil of the Holy Spirit to ease the friction of fractured relationships.
â€œReflectionsâ€ is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The churchâ€™s website is siluriabaptist.com.