I spent the last three years leading a Sunday School class of adult singles at church. I volunteered to teach the class hoping I could serve and bless them. Instead the people in the group served and blessed me.
On the surface I did not have a lot in common with the class. I was 32, while most of the members were in their late 40’s or 50’s. I had three kids and was married for almost 13 years, but most them were either never married, divorced, or widowed. How was a young married guy like me going to lead and mesh with this group? What did we have to offer one another?
I couldn’t say what I ultimately offered them in ways of growth, help, or spiritual nourishment, but I can certainly bear witness to how God used the members of the class to bless, teach, and show me how every day people can bring salt and light into a dark and dying world.
Our group filled all sorts of roles in society: moms and dads, businessmen and women, grandmothers, counselors, care givers, and even a guy who helped restore Ford Mustangs. Maybe they didn’t bear the title of missionary or pastor, but they lived out their faith and love in such a way that they carried Jesus wherever they went. They brought Christ into their work, their families, and to every person they encountered.
You wouldn’t use words like flashy, charismatic, or overwhelming to describe them. Instead you’d use the word “faithful” and “loving”. They were faithful to care for their families and each other. They were loved and welcomed any new person who came into our class. Each week they sought to walk with the Lord through every trial and circumstance.
They reminded me how faith is not always clean and simple. Faith is a messy business involving doubt, struggle in a broken world. Walking with Christ on this earth means you deal with divorce, broken relationships, addictions, unemployment, uncertainty, sinful children, difficult roommates, bad bosses, and problems paying the bills. Living out your faith outside of Eden is hard, no doubt about it, but these believers faithfully sought the Lord and loved one another, even through the tears and doubt which sometimes overwhelmed them.
The body of Christ was alive and well in that small group. In our Sunday morning meetings they would listen to the prayers and struggles of each other, pray for one another, and bear each other’s burdens. And there was such joy! Never have I had such difficulty in getting a group of individuals to stop laughing and joking around, and yet my efforts to rein in their laughter was itself a delight. Even though the members of the class knew pain, they also knew how to laugh with and love one another despite their trials.
Calling the group “seasoned” was an accident that ended up sticking. One day in class I was trying to compliment the group. I mentioned how they were “seasoned individuals”, meaning they were people who had lived and experienced life and faith to a greater degree than others. What they heard was that they were a bunch of old people. This came across to them as both humorous and mildly insulting, (which wasn’t my intention), but the word stuck. They delightfully called themselves “seasoned” and even bought me a shirt for my 35th birthday that said “Seasoned to Perfection”.
Perhaps the “seasoned” comment was divine intervention. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:13-16, selected). Christ’s followers were meant to redeem, save, and bring flavor to a tasteless world. May we all be such “seasoned” individuals in our homes and workplaces.
Churches everywhere are filled with “seasoned” individuals who faithfully and quietly bring Jesus Christ in to a dark and dying world. They all live where the rubber of faith meets the road of a sinful world. Some of them are doing it quite well. I myself am thankful for the opportunity to be among such wonderful people who taught me so much about faith, love, and flavoring.