Unique & United

Unique and United

I’ve been thinking a lot about the current increase in tension in the Middle East and snowflakes.  I know, I know…it’s hard to come up with two more unrelated things than snow and conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Here’s how they meet in my brain.

From our vantage point, the whole conflict between Sunni Saudis and Shiite Iranians seems strange.  Sure, we can understand that there was some controversy 14 centuries ago over who would succeed Mohammad and I’m sure if I was a Muslim, I would have an opinion.  But why are they allowing it to distract from the overall point – they’re both Muslims!

If you think that’s an interesting question, try asking it of the Christian church in America.  We’re phenomenally good and dividing ourselves into little cliques, tribes and factions.  We waste a ton of time comparing, condemning and criticizing others who come from a different stream.  And we waste a lot of time making our little stream as comfortable as possible.  Whatever your persuasion, there’s a conference, blogger and pastor for you.  We do it over whether we sprinkle infants or dunk believers.  We do it over music, preaching styles and whether we can have a beer or not.  We take shots at each other on social media and then write blogs responding to the twitter controversy.

It’s all so silly.

And snowflakes would help us a lot.

You’ve probably heard this before but every snowflake is unique.  There are no two that are exactly alike.  It’s what makes them beautiful.  Yes, they have a lot in common since they’re all made of crystalized water.  But they’re distinct.  That’s they way it should be with churches.  If your church is a carbon copy of another, you’re following a formula not a Risen King.  Similar churches? Sure.  Identical? Nope.  We need to learn to be okay with that.  So, yes, I have opinions, convictions and beliefs about all the issues I mentioned above.  There’s a reason I’m a Baptist, not a Presbyterian.

But blizzards don’t come from single snowflakes.  Blizzards come when all the unique flakes are flying in the same direction, with the same purpose, driven by the same wind.  That’s when cities are blanketed with the glory of fresh snow.  Imagine the potential of our individual snowflakes uniting to blanket our cities with the glory of God.

We would criticize less.  Celebrate more.  Stop transferring people from church to church and start reaching those with no church.  We would stop trying to outdo each other with cooler events and start working for the good of our cities and those who won’t come to a church event, no matter how cool.

I love the local church.  Bill Hybels was right, “It is the hope of the world.” But that hope will shine brightest when we stop critiquing the other snowflakes and lean in towards a blizzard of redemption and restoration.

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