Quarrels, helmets, missed opportunities

Published 2:49 pm Saturday, November 4, 2023

By Michael J. Brooks

I didn’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 “Auburn room” 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. 

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The question I posed is, “Whose shelf should this helmet be on?”

Of course, the answer is that it should be on that young man’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 Paul’s first missionary tour. We don’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 Paul’s companions. He’s mentioned in two places as a champion for Christ. But when Paul languished in a Roman prison, he sadly wrote, “Demas has forsaken me being in love with the present world” (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 Lord’s work. Perhaps like Demas they became selfish and materialistic. Or maybe they found the world’s opposition to a life of holiness too great to sustain. Or more likely, they quarreled with other Christians and didn’t find reconciliation.

The old Church Covenant speaks a word about reconciliation: “We 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.”

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. 

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.