SBC Life Articles

Funny-Looking Clothes

When an interviewee for a job at a famous art gallery was asked, "If you could save one picture from a fire, which piece would it be?" He answered, "I'd save the piece closest to the exit." So often that's how we think — only of ourselves. That makes it difficult to walk together, but sadly that's the history of the church. It's like going to a fight and a hockey game breaks out. Sometimes you go to church and a fight breaks out. We don't have the unity of the Christ.

During marriage counseling, often I had men who had been married for five years or so wanting a divorce. When I asked why, they often said, "We are incompatible." I told them that it was incompatibility that attracted them in the first place. She had something that he didn't have. She had characteristics that he didn't have and that attracted him. We are all in a sense incompatible.

You are different from me, and I am different from you. God did not create divine duplicates. God does not want everyone to look, act, and smell the same. All of His disciples were different. They were as different as night and day but had a common goal. God used their differences to reach a variety of people, and He will do the same with us. The church ship has no passengers. We are all the crew, and our job is to fill the ship. God puts our gifts together to create smooth sailing.

In our daughter Kasey's school everyone played in the band so she tried the clarinet. I passed all of my musical ability down to my children — which is none whatsoever. Now, Kasey was a great cheerleader — but she was pitiful at the clarinet. Her practices were just noise and I began to dread the upcoming concert. I envisioned all of these Kaseys getting together and it was going to be loud and long. It was going to be called a concert but I sensed disaster. Sure enough there were these other Kaseys with their instruments warming up and it was sounding really bad. Then the conductor directed them all to the same page and the same song. It actually sounded pretty good. That is what God does. You may not think you are doing something good; but when we are all together in the church, He makes beautiful music in the world.

Jesus is the core of unity. He is the conductor that keeps us on the same page. Some people say that the core to unity is love but love will not sustain unity. The common understanding is that love is an emotion, but until love becomes a decision it will not sustain. Love doesn't sustain a marriage. Marriage sustains the love. Beliefs and commitments are what sustain emotion. The Bible doesn't just say love, love, love; it has theology, doctrine, and beliefs. That is what unifies us. It is important to understand that unity comes from beliefs.

We worship the same Lord, we hold the same faith, and we are all baptized together demonstrating that we have the same faith. We are one body together. This is where we are unified. There are a lot of external things in which we are not unified, but we are unified on these internal things.

Years ago our church had a garage sale. One of the items on the front table was the most beautiful nativity set I have ever seen. It was handmade out of olive wood. The price was unusually cheap. I told the people that the price should be raised significantly. They asked me if I had looked carefully at the nativity. Upon closer inspection, I realized I couldn't find Jesus. They said they had lost Jesus last year and without Him it is just a nice wood building with people wearing funny-looking clothes. I couldn't help but think that I had been in churches like that. They are so beautiful — but they lost Jesus and now they are just nice buildings with people wearing funny-looking clothes.

Some churches have not lost Him, but He is their crutch and not their commander. They call on Him in times of trouble but He does not set the agenda. He is not the head. To us there is no distinction between the head and the body. You wouldn't say that I am talking to Charles' head, but in the Bible there is a distinction. In the Bible the head is the most important part and He is the director.

Let me put it on a physical level. Without your head, you are dead. You can get along without your arm or your foot, but if you lose your head, you are dead. That's the way it is with the church. We can get along without everything except the head, Christ.

The question is, "Do you pastor a church or a nice building with people wearing funny-looking clothes?" To answer the question you might look for Jesus.

Editor's Note: Comic Belief, the recently released book by Charles Lowery that includes many of his most popular SBC LIFE articles is now available at www.charleslowery.com.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery