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My daughter, Madalyn – who goes by “Bis”, is in kindergarten.  She’s starting to pick up sight words.  She has a list of them like: as, my, like, is, and, & “the”.  Having an older brother who enjoys reading has made her jealous for years.  There’s nothing she wants more than to be able to read.  She knows that it will open up the world to her in magical and wonderful ways.

Right now she is in the excited phase of noticing words she knows.  Her favorite is the word “THE.”  She sees it everywhere and points it out, “Look dad! THE!”  “Yah, Bis, you got it.”  “What else does it say, dad?”  I end up reading a lot of random things.  I am looking forward to her being able to read…almost as much as she is.

She’s really getting a few things down really well.  She’ll move on from the simple things to the more difficult things as she masters the beginner words.  It reminds me of a scripture passage, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:16.  The way I see it, there are a lot of things in theology and life in Christ that are complicated and difficult to understand.  But I feel like God has given us a vocabulary list of words (and ways to live) that are elementary and basic.

There’s an old story out of church history that I think becomes useful here.  The apostle John, living into old age, would attend worship each time the believers gathered.  And each time he would be asked to address the believers.  He would say the same thing every time he “preached.”  He would say, “Brothers and sisters, let us love one another.”  Then he would be done.  A simple sermon, I suppose, but I’m guessing he figured as soon as they mastered that one task, then he’d move on to something else.

We have a lot of things we could spend hours and hours and energy and resources arguing over, but “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”  Perhaps we could spend our time and energy and resources doing the things that don’t seem to be disagreed upon: loving the unlovely, caring for the poor and oppressed, opposing injustice, and the like.  “THE.”

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