The story is told of a county superintendent of education who had three applications to fill one vacancy among bus drivers. He devised a scenario for selecting the proper man for the job. The superintendent took the first applicant to a sharp curve on a steep grade along the road and asked, “How close can you drive the school bus to the edge of the road on the curve without going over the cliff with the children?” The interested driver replied, “I believe I can go within two inches and still be safe.”
The second person who had applied for the job heard the same proposition. He checked the curve and told the county official, “I believe I can drive within one inch of the edge and not go over.” When the superintendent took the third driver to the same highway and made a similar proposition to him, the applicant immediately asked, “Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not interested in seeing how close I can get to the edge with the bus. I’ll be trying to see how far I can keep away from the danger line with the bus!” He received the job.
There is a borderline between the church and the world for the Christian. The church means “the called out from the kingdom of sin.” John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. ” (I John 2:15). One who seeks to stay just as near the world of sin as possible and still follow Christ has the wrong attitude. Our individual, as the driver, should stay as far away from the danger zone as possible. Paul wrote, “Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good ” (Romans 12:9).
Charles Darrow was out of work and as poor as a pauper during the Depression, but he kept a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He didn’t want his wife, expecting their first child, to be discouraged; so every night when he returned to their little apartment after standing in the unemployment lines all day, he would tell her funny stories about the things he had seen. His temperament was the color his wife used to paint her mood. If he came home weary and irritable, her spirits fell, and her smile vanished. On the other hand, if she heard him whistling a merry tune as he climbed the many flights of stairs up to their tiny rooms, she would fling open the door and scamper out to the railing to lean over and smile at him as he wound his way up the staircase. They fed on the gift of each other’s joy.
In his younger years, Darrow had enjoyed happy family vacations in nearby Atlantic City, and he drew on those memories to keep his spirits high. He developed a little game on a square piece of cardboard. Around the edges he drew a series of “properties” named after the streets and familiar places he had visited during those pleasant childhood summers. He carved little houses and hotels out of scraps of wood, and as he and his young wife played the game each evening, they pretended to be rich, buying and selling property and “building” homes and hotels like extravagant tycoons. On those long, dark evenings, that impoverished apartment was filled with the sound of laughter.
Charles Darrow didn’t set out to become a millionaire when he developed “Monopoly”, a game that was later marketed around the world by Parker Brothers, but that’s what happened. The little gift he developed from scraps of cardboard and tiny pieces of wood he had obtained from a scrap pile was simply a way to keep his wife’s spirits up during her Depression-era pregnancy; ultimately, that gift came back to him as bountiful riches.
Monopoly is still being sold by the thousands of boxes all these years later. Darrow created a special gift of joy, shared it with the world and the gift came right back to him a thousand fold. Isn’t part of our responsibility as Christians to share the joy of knowing Christ and the salvation that comes only through Him? Let’s make sure that is what people are seeing when they look at our lives. After all, we don’t have a “Monopoly” on salvation. It’s for EVERYONE!!
A beautiful white rabbit, used in a nature class, was to be given away to one of the children in a drawing. To take part in the drawing each child had to bring a note from his or her parents saying they could keep the animal if they won it. One boy’s mother was terrified by the thought of a rabbit as a pet. She emphatically said, “NO!”, much to the disappointment of the little boy. His father, seeing the deep hurt on the boy’s face said, “I don’t think it would be such a difference around here if we had one little rabbit. Besides, what are the chances of our boy winning the rabbit with twenty-eight other students in the class?” And so they gave their permission note for the boy to take to school. That afternoon the boy rushed through the front door and excitedly announced that he was the big winner. The rabbit was his! “You mean that out of all twenty-eight students in your class you won the rabbit?” his mother asked trembling. “Well, not exactly,” said the child, “I was the only one with a note!”
Assumption can often be disastrous, leading to much worse than that above. Think of our assumption that leaves so much of the Lord’s work undone. A friend or neighbor well known to us is ignored rather than taught the Word. We assumed someone else would do it. Visitors are observed at our worship services, but we make no effort to welcome them and invite them back. They never return and we wonder why. Could it be because we assumed that someone else would make them feel welcome. Contributions fall short, Bible class attendance drops, teaching positions go unfilled, facilities are uncared for etc. etc., all because of our assumptions that someone else will meet the need. Let us never be guilty of assuming that others will fill the place we ourselves fail to fill. No one can do the work God has marked for YOU!!
A favorite fish of many hobbyists is the Japanese carp, commonly known as the koi. The fascinating thing about the koi is that if you keep it in a small fish bowl it will only grow to be two or three inches long. Place the koi in a large pond and it may get as long as a foot and a half. The size of the fish is related to the size of the pond.
What about us? Is our growth determined by the size of our world? Of course, it is not the circumference of the earth or our physical size that is important, but our spiritual growth. Are we allowing our growth to be stunted by the size of the tank we have placed ourselves in? Some people’s world revolves only around themselves, what they want, where they want to go and what they know. They remain a small fish in a very tiny fish bowl.
Let us open our minds to the vastness of God’s ocean. Let us stretch our horizons and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. But how? Well, you got to get out of that little fish bowl or as I like to refer to it — your comfort zone. You’ve got to take an interest in others and other things. There are many programs and activities that you can be involved in here at Aldersgate if you would make the effort. We are always open and looking for more and better ways to reach others with the gospel and to strengthen the members of the congregation. Our goal is to work, communicate, share, live and grow together in such a way that we become BIG fish in a BIG pond!
It was not uncommon to see a path of raised dirt going across the front yard at my childhood home. Occasionally you might even seen the ground being worked and with a shovel dig up the mole. Although moles can disrupt gardens or manicured lawns, they have something valuable to teach us about church life. Moles spend most of their time underground, using a complex system of tunnels to find food, take shelter from the elements, and sleep in safety. Although many moles may use common tunnels (like highways), they generally retreat to their own holes or nests to bed down.
Spiders also have a lesson to teach us. They spend a great deal of time carefully weaving webs that become intricate, perfectly symmetrical masterpieces. Because each strand of the web is connected to another, spiders can sense the tiniest of vibrations no matter where they are on the web. If part of the web becomes damaged or lost, they work quickly to rebuild it.
Churches can be like mole tunnels or spider webs. Just like a mole’s underground world, churches can be a place where everyone enters the same door and uses the same hallways but eventually retreats to their own space, isolated and detached from the others. People often carve their own tunnels and separate themselves by age group, theological beliefs, political affiliation, season of life, or many other factors. When this occurs, ministry becomes just another compartmentalized area of our lives. On the other hand, churches can instead choose to be like a spider web, where each person/ministry/age group is connected and intertwined, becoming a system that struggles and thrives together as one. In this model, people form relationships across generations, lifestyles, interests, and beliefs. There is intentionality and cohesion throughout the entire web.
We want to be like a spider web, not a mole den. Each “strand” in the Body of Christ is both important and necessary, from our babies in the nursery to our homebound church members throughout the community, and everyone in between. Let’s weave a web of love together.