Points to Ponder: Busy Bricks
Points to Ponder: Busy Bricks
Imagine: one Sunday morning you drive up to church and find a section of the brick wall missing. "Why is there a 25-square foot hole in our wall?" you ask a trustee. He calmly explains that there was a need in town for some bricks - just for a few days - and that they'll be back. "It's not a load-bearing wall anyway, so you'll get used to the hole after awhile."
For a wonderfully lower price than is typical, the Busy Brick Building Company had designed your church to be able to stand using only 20 percent of the total brick structure. You recall the brochure: "Busy Brick Builders: 'because today's American church needs to be flexible'."
The contractor summed it up in his proposal:
"Sundays are filled with many wonderful activities and programs; and the church needs to keep up with the times. Busy Brick accommodates your busy lifestyle."
The elder tells you how it works.
"They built our church building with these special Busy Bricks. For a substantially lower price, the congregation didn't have to really sacrifice to either pay for the building or to operate our ministry when it was.
"Busy Bricks accommodate to our need using an 80/20 ratio. Eighty percent of the building was built with bricks marked "CCC" which were installed in such a way that they can be easily removed for any other purpose we choose. The remaining 20 percent is what actually holds the roof up. And in any church, as we know, 20 percent usually does 80 percent of the work."
So, you ask, "Why are these Busy Bricks marked 'CCC'?"
Pointing toward the bricks, you see they are not permanently interlocked in place. "American Christians are busy; hence the name," he explains. "It is a real selling point for churches - a way that requires minimum sacrifice up front and no expectation of permanence along the way. So the CCC simply means: 'Commitment Contingent on Convenience.'"
The next Sunday you come to church and find most of that first hole filled in; but a whole wall is missing on the backside of the building. "What's going on?" you ask the same elder you spoke with last week.
"Well," he says, "there are some special community things going on and they needed the bricks for over there...And anyway, it's a nice, mild day; kind of adds to the ambience of our worship. Hopefully the ladies will remember to wear their Easter hats...Birds, you know."
Amazing concept, you think to yourself. Flexible bricks. As long as a few strong pillars are there to hold the roof up, the attendance of the walls can match the fluctuating attendance of the congregation: a church that accommodates the lives of the people.
My imagination invented this story as I was pondering the significance of Peter's words to persecuted Christians.
"Coming to Him as a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:4-5).
In Jesus' building program, He's the living stone, the chief cornerstone of a spiritual house, which He's building with our lives. The meaning of "Coming to Him" (v. 4) expresses a decisive movement with the intention of remaining fixed in place. It's a living structure serving a divine purpose.
But how often do you really consider your faith as the substance of a divine assignment, which you are on earth to serve? How often do we come to God claiming to believe He can cure cancer, restore an injured loved one, or intercede against incredible odds? Yet we live our lives in practical disbelief. Is the Lord really "able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20)? "Sure, but not in my life." There are some things we don't even pray about, or bring to God's attention because we really don't believe He would - or could - do anything. True?
And so, if we live our faith in practical disbelief, that God's power is not available nor will work through us, we will easily dismiss our role as living stones in His building. To be aligned with the chief cornerstone in a building that God designed "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:3-4; I Peter 1:1-2) is the greatest purpose for which to live. Why don't we consciously think so - daily?
Do you come into the church with "CCC" marked on your heart? Our commitment is contingent on the convenience of what's important to us now. How much more powerful and fulfilling our lives could be if we regarded our walk with Christ as a Commitment contingent on Calling.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).
Are you busy about your Father's business - or just busy?
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com