Several years ago I built a stone wall around a flower bed over at my cabin. The bed is somewhere between fifteen to twenty feet long and around ten feet wide so it took me a little time to finish the thing. It was backbreaking work and I soon discovered muscles in the back of my legs that I had forgotten existed; but all in all it was a lot of fun. There is nothing like watching a wall rise where nothing existed before for positive reinforcement.
When you do this kind of work you usually do it alone I have discovered. Family members tend to migrate to areas away from shovels and the like, and it is a good friend indeed who will mix mortar with you. In turn I had time to think.
As I was working my way around the wall I was following my training and subconsciously staggering the joints between the rocks. That is, I was not simply stacking the rocks one on top of another, I was placing two rocks end to end on one level and spanning the joint between them with the rock above. In so doing I was making a very strong wall. Instead of making a wall of columns stacked beside one another which is anything but stable, I was constructing a wall that was interconnected and therefore able to withstand the pressures of many years of use. I figure that wall will be there when I am long gone.
As I continued my work it struck me how the family of God is like that wall, or at least should be. I add the “should be” because all too often those of us who make up the body tend to balk a little at the idea of staggering the joints. To stagger the joints means that we will have to rely upon someone else for support and strength. It means we will have to work with one another for the common good. It means that compromise and consensus will need to be attained, and that means that we just might have to give up a thing or two, and we don’t like that. I know I don’t!
That being said, for the body of Christ to present a united front to the world we just might need to stagger a bit. Now this doesn’t mean we will have to submerge our personalities or our opinions, for that matter. Trust me that wall I built has all sorts of rocks in it from sharp ornery ones, to smooth gentle ones and every type of rock in between. Some of the rocks don’t fit just right with their neighbors, but each and every one of them has found at least one point at which to make contact and continue the strength.
We must do the same in the Church of Christ. While we may disagree on all sorts of things, from the color of the carpet to the translation of the Bible we use, our point of contact is Jesus Christ and His saving grace. From that point the strength of the faith continues.
While we Christians tend to enjoy setting up various ministries and/or denominations, stacking them beside one another and calling them the church, we must understand that to engage in such things tends to weaken, not strengthen the Church. A column with no support will soon fall. Only through the intermingling of all of our calls and the joining of our spirits will the Church of Christ be strengthened and the Body made whole.
My challenge is simple. Let us all work together to build a wall of faith. With all of our strengths staggered and Christ as our mortar, it will be a joy to watch the wall rise.