I grew up in an era before video, Veggie Tales or Bible-based computer games. I was raised, at least in terms of religious education, on the flannelgraph. To this day, although I know that the scriptures are peopled with characters of texture and nuance, I think of Bible people and see pastel paper figures pressed on a felt board.
Thou shalt not be ridiculous. Paul says, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." When Paul wrote that wonderful sentence he probably was sitting in an upper room in Athens. It was late at night, quiet, and all the fools were asleep.
Jesus called the Twelve together and put the question to them with unsettling directness: Do you also wish to go away? I wonder sometimes how I would have responded to the question. Because at times the truth is I do wish to go away.
God has become clear in the person of Jesus. God approves us, gently draws us to Christ and teaches us. God has taken full initiative to provide sustenance sufficient for this life and the next. He does not even fret about how much we eat. He simply invites us to his well-stocked table of abundant blessing. As it was for those early listeners, so it is for us.
As Christians, we are joined together, responsible for one another’s Christian walk and well-being. Paul talks about “one body and one spirit,” so when someone we know is in trouble—some metaphorical fuse is burning in his or her life—we’re there for that person, praying, talking, listening and helping. We “bear with one another in love,” with “humility, gentleness and patience.” Of course, it's easier to describe that kind of fellowship with good religious words than to actually pull it off.