Muldrow is a unique place. It is one of those places that either take you back in time or is stuck in time depending on your perspective. People ride on horses up and down the highway. The Chamber of Commerce is more about friendships and relationships than businesses and agendas. There are as many people in a parade as there are watching the parade. You can’t talk about anybody, because you are probably talking to their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd cousin. And the two most important entities in the town are the churches and the school. It’s small town USA, and the community of Muldrow is proud of that.
Last year, the churches and the schools worked together for good. We hosted a Teacher’s vs. Preacher’s Basketball game to help a local family with some significant medical expenses. Literally half the town (1500 people) attended the game to watch a bunch of over-the-hill men play a turnover-fest of a basketball game. (OK, so the preacher’s unofficially ordained Bryant “Big Country” Reeves to help us to victory.) Over $10,000 was raised for the family, and it was a special night doing something that Muldrow can do so well: work together.
This week we got word that the 10 Commandments that are posted in every room in the school were to be taken down or there would be legal action against the school. The community of Muldrow has held on to the ideal that this town, our town is a Christian community. Now, this threat of the removal of the 10 Commandments threatens our very identity. If we can’t have the 10 Commandments in our schools, what does that say about Muldrow, the city we love?
The first thing it says is this: We are not a “Christian Community,” a town governed by God and filled with Christians, aka heaven. We are a “Community with Christians,” a town governed by the Law and populated with devoted Christians, nominal Christians, and non-Christians. The reality is this on a Sunday morning only 1 out of every 4 people, 25%, 1 quarter of our town is in church for worship. That is not a “Christian Community,” that is a “Community with Christians.”
As long as the 10 Commandments are posted in every classroom, we could live with this belief that we are a Christian Community. We could believe that even if someone didn’t go to church, they would still have access to the Word of God. We could believe that most of our town is Christian and those who aren’t in church on Sunday morning just haven’t found the right fit yet. We could believe, as one of my most committed ladies in my church told me that “we shouldn’t have to invite people to church, that they should know they need to be in church.” We can’t believe that anymore.
The reality is this, Muldrow is filled with people who are hurting and in need of the hope that only God can provide. Pain fills our pews, our classrooms, and our roads. I sit next to them, see them get on the school bus, and wave to them on the roads, but I don’t know their hearts or imagine their pain. As a pastor, I know of people who struggle with alcohol, struggle with depression, and struggle with maintaining their most important relationships, but most people I encounter keep me in the dark about what keeps them up at night.
So what do we do? Do we fight to keep the 10 Commandments on the walls or do we make sure that God’s laws are written on our hearts and lived out in our lives? Is it more important to wage a legal battle about freedom of religion or is it more important to wage a spiritual battle for the souls of our neighbors. I am proud to be a part of the Muldrow Ministerial Alliance, a group of Christ-centered Pastors and churches who are consumed with working together for worship, service, and fellowship in our community. We are wrestling with this issue, and I stand in agreement with them. It is vitally important that we support our administration and our school board. They have laws that they must follow to run a state and federally supported school. They did not initiate these 10 Commandments to be taken down, but they understand the position that the school is in. There is a school board meeting on Monday night at 6:00 P.M., and we are inviting all our church members to go to support the administration.
I am encouraged to see our Muldrow students take a personal interest in keeping the 10 Commandments in their schools. Not because I think they have the 10 Commandments memorized, but because in their hearts they believe that God is important. They have a desire to have t-shirts made that represent their faith and their feelings. I’m glad that the Alliance has agreed to help make these shirts and give them to our students to wear on Wednesday May 15th to school. (If a Muldrow student is interested in a shirt, go to www.muldrowag.org/about) My advice to every student that wears a shirt is to read the shirt and abide by it. The ironic struggle of wearing a 10 Commandments shirt is the danger of making the 10 Commandments an idol. The best definition of an idol I’ve heard comes from Pastor Timothy Keller who defined an idol as “making anything, even a good thing, an ultimate thing.” If you are wearing the shirt and the fighting for the 10 Commandments causes you to look down at someone who is not wearing it or creates a hostile divide among your fellow classmates, please don’t wear it. If you wear the Commandments, then live the Commandments.
It’s critical that we realize that we can’t let the schools do the church’s job. Our school is filled with wonderful Christ-centered teachers, administrators, and staff. Their job is to love these kids and give them the best education. Our teachers have a difficult enough job without giving them the additional personal responsibility of teaching the faith. Teaching the faith is the mission of the church. We must find ways to meet the students in our community where they are, and give them the love of Christ. We must make Christian education a priority both as a church program and as a ministry of parents and guardians.
Most of all, we must learn that Muldrow is a “Christian Community,” but it is a “Community of Christians” with the mission field not in Africa or in China but on Shawntel Smith, Redland Road, and 64B. As I think about the 10 Commandments being taken down in our schools, I’m reminded of the Book of Esther, the only book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God’s name, but just because he is not mentioned does not mean he is absent. It tells the story of a Jewish woman named Esther who became queen of Persia and thwarted a plan to commit genocide against her people. At the key moment of the story, the wise older Jewish leader named Mordecai encourages Esther to be brave and confront the King of Persia to save her people, while risking her life. He tells her, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Maybe together, we are here in Muldrow for such a time as this. A time to wake up to the reality of the mission around us to bring Christ to our neighbors and be Christ for our neighborhood. It’s time to be the church.