So this week I got schooled by a snowman!
As a church planting pastor and a parent of 4 young children I am acutely aware (and thoroughly unapologetic) that I talk about Jesus A LOT and that the vast majority of my illustrative stories involve my beautiful-but-bonkers family. So this week’s ‘message’ includes my kids…and a larger-than-life snowman!
The story begins on Saturday morning with the Fab 4 abruptly waking me up by jumping on me, whacking and screaming the joyous news that “IT’S BEEN SNOWING!!”
I rose (grudgingly) and looked out of the window to see for myself, and sure enough, an army of ninja snowflakes had fallen silently through the night and blessed us with a good couple of inches of the wonderful white stuff. And I knew that this could only mean one thing on a family day…
So we wolfed down our brekkie, donned our fleeces and waterproofs and headed for the ‘big field’.
It’s fair to say that the kids were buzzin as we crunched our way along the pavement, to the excited chorus of voices describing the various snow sculptures they were about to create.
“I’m going to build a snow tiger” said Elen (8), to which Ezra (4) replied “I’m making a snow elephant”.
Josiah (6) announced that his project was to carve out a snow bat, whilst Anastasia (4) was adamant that she was going to create a “snow baby pig” (NOT a snow piglet, a snow baby pig…cos apparently there’s a difference!)
We reached the field and after a few frenzied minutes of “chuck snowballs at dad” they each set to work. In fairness to the big 2, they just got down to business, while the twins quickly discovered that it’s one thing to have a vision, it’s quite another to make it happen…and dad was quickly called in to help.
It probably took about 10 minutes for the big 2 to get bored/frustrated enough to ask their dad for help as well…which left me with a bit of a dilemma – I’ve only got one pair of hands and I was going to need 4 if I was going to be able to offer all the help that was being asked of me.
But then I had a crazy idea…
What if everyone forgot about their individual projects and we all worked together on a bigger project – like building a GIANT snowman?!
Fair play to them, they didn’t take much convincing and quick as they flash they set to work rolling out some humungous snow balls.
I have to confess that I felt really proud as I watched my little posse in full flow – working together, encouraging each other and spurring one another on. What I was most stoked about, however, was their willingness to lay aside their personal goals for the sake of achieving something together that was greater than anything that they could have done alone.
Once they had rolled out their gargantuan snowballs they realised that compacted snow is a lot heavier than it looks and they needed to call on someone else (me) to stack the snowballs on top of each other. Once the tripe-decker snow beast was all stacked up we all went on the hunt for eyes, arms, buttons and nose. Gradually, piece-by-piece the snow blob started to look like a snowman (big thanks to the friendly neighbour who lobbed me a carrot/nose).
It was only when the snowman was complete that the Fab 4 were able to stop, take a breath and take in what they had achieved…TOGETHER!
I’m sure you’ll agree – it’s quite impressive!
As I looked at my mega midget army dancing around their towering snowman I was reminded of what it means to be the church.
The church is a motley rabble of men, women and children from all walks of life, each with their own dreams and ambitions, their own unique skills and experiences, but brought together under the blood of Christ to live, love and serve a cause that is infinitely greater than them all – the cause of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!
One of the saddest things I have encountered in 15 years of gospel ministry is churches who think that their project or ministry is of greater value and worth than anything that other churches are doing, and so they prefer to go solo at the expense of wider church unity. What is equally tragic is when individual Christians decide that there are no local churches that they can belong to or serve in and so they opt instead to go it alone.
Now I’m not naive – I am more than aware that inter-church unity can be awkward and costly and that we will never agree on everything. But that doesn’t mean that we should just forget it, because where Christ is preached there is a foundation for unity in the gospel. Similarly, there is no such thing as a perfect local church, but neither is there such a thing as a perfect follower of Jesus. Sure, all local churches have their issues, but that’s no excuse to reject church altogether. Show me a Christian who flourishes spiritually apart from the body of Christ and I’ll show you an amputated arm or leg that flourishes apart from the body. Believers may not always agree with each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need each other!
Here are a few scriptures to ponder:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
Psalm 133 v 1
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17 v 20-22
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4 v 15-16
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12 v 12-27
So if there’s one thing that my kids’ snowman has taught me it’s this – that we are better, stronger and can achieve so much more together than we ever will alone.
Sometimes we need to sacrifice the snow bat for the sake of the snowman.
(This snowman story featured in a sermon I preached yesterday at Hill City Church which you can listen to here).