Friday, January 11, 2013

A Christmas Program

Last month, I went with Jan to a Christmas program at the school where she teaches. As I sat watching the program, I started thinking that I was at a Christmas program that neither of our children were in, that I didn't know any of the students, and that the only reason I was there because some of Jan's students were participating. And, I was enjoying it. As I wondered why, I realized it was because it was a program that was full of the innocence of children, the joy of simple participation, and unconditional love. Later, I thought how that simple school Christmas program was a good picture of what the church is (or should be).

The participants in the program were not professional musicians or actors. While the performance was very good, there were notes that were missed and lines that were flubbed. It was what was there that is most important. There was innocence, an innocence that allowed each child to simply go through their part in the program and not worry about any missteps. There was also a joy in simply doing something in front of their families and friends. They were simply doing something and having fun doing it. None of the children ran crying from the stage because they had missed a cue or hit the wrong note. There was no embarrassment. This was because the children knew that they were loved by their parents and teachers, and that this love did not depend on performance. The audience applauded each part of the program, and showed sincere appreciation for the efforts of the participants.

This is how the church should be. Each of us has a part to play in the "program" that is the church. We are all called to be ministers of the grace of God. Whether that part is "big" or "small," we all have something to do in the body. We are called to be as children in our trust of the Father. It is an innocent trust that knows that, no matter what, our Abba has everything under control and loves us. Knowing this allows us to do what we do with joy, because we know that the end result doesn't depend on us and our performance doesn't determine our acceptance. We can miss cues, flub lines, and hit the wrong notes and our Father loves us the same.

That unconditional love of God calls us to love each other in the same way. Some of us struggle with a critical way of looking at the world. That is wrong. Just as no one criticized the children for not being perfect, so we should not criticize our brothers and sisters who may not do things as well as we do, or who may not be as far along in certain parts of their journey. We must remember that each one of us is solely responsible to God, and how he has called us may not be the same as how he has called another. We are also called to lay down our lives for our brothers. That will help free them to serve with joy and an innocent trust in the God who is sovereign and who can take our poorest efforts and use them for his glory and the advancement of his kingdom.

Let us be as children as we do what God has called us to do. Let us rest in the Father as we work, trusting him completely. Let us take joy in our calling, and let others know the source of that joy. Let us love one another as Christ has loved us and allow each other the freedom to play out our calling, even when it doesn't look all that pretty.


Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

One thing Christians need to give each other is the freedom to fail. How many of us ever got anything right the first time we did it and if all we meet in criticism it is easy to give up trying.

co_heir said...

So true.

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