How many of you have had a quilt in your family? Can you look back and think about that quilt and remember how cozy it was?
Maybe it was at your home…or your grandmother’s. It may have been used a lot and you remember how soft it was from wear. You may have even curled up in it on cold, rainy days and felt the warm comfort of it…along with a hot drink and a crackling fire. It may have even felt like a hug from the person you loved who made it for you.
HOW IS YOUR CHURCH LIKE A QUILT?
When I think of church communities, I think of a quilt. I hear the groans of some of you…as I have heard complaints about churches over the years. Honestly, I’ve made more than a few myself! But bear with me a bit longer…please.
The root of the complaints we have about our churches has to do with our expectations. Honestly, we want our churches to be like quilts…at least in some ways. We want them to be warm and cozy. We want them to be soft and comfortable. However, when we get involved in them, we rarely find that to be the case!
Often, it seems that the first things we come across are the thorny, rougher sides of people that irritate and aggravate us. We don’t take into account that we live in a broken, fallen world. We forget we are human. Yes, we are believers, but we aren’t perfect, we are all in the process of sanctification. We won’t get there completely until we are in heaven…with Him!
We want others to be tolerant and loving of us and our warts but we aren’t nearly as eager to reach out, and serve them when their grittiness is showing. It isn’t until later when we get to know them better and learn more about their stories, learn their perspectives and get some understanding of what they bring to the church community that we come to love and appreciate them and the contribution they make to the Kingdom. Well, that is if we give them a chance and make the effort to get to know them.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN REAL LIFE
Am I being too vague? Here is a real life illustration. I have had times when women in churches where I, who am administratively challenged, have served, were gifted in administration. Often, they irritated me…well, I allowed that to happen.
They tended to be brusque and to the point. The were much more oriented to the time…unlike me since I living in Jamaica. When there was money to be spent in board meetings, they made motions for their pet causes and usually the motions passed because no one else had recommendations.
It was easy to get resentful of them personally. Instead, I learned from them…eventually. Actually, they were great people to have on committees where I served. They kept meetings moving along. They didn’t tend to get bogged down like I do. They were able to keep the group from getting too lost in details and rabbit trails, another of my downfalls.
I soon learned to go into meetings like that prepared so if there was money to spend, I had a project or two in mind for it to go to. I remember the first time it happened, the “administrator” lady was glad for another idea. She knew of the project I recommended and liked it too. She was glad to hear other suggestions.
It turned out she wasn’t the dictator I judged her to be at first. I learned a little more about how to function on a board more effectively. And, oh yes, I learned a little more about how to love people in my church who are different from me in ways I don’t always appreciate.
HOW CAN MY CHURCH BE LIKE A QUILT?
So, if we aren’t looking for a church that is warm and cozy like a quilt, what is a church to be like that is in common with a quilt?
As you look at the photo above with all the colors and prints that are so different, look at how the designer of the quilt arranged it so that all the similar colors go together to form a block. Even though they are not the exact shade of that color, they add texture and character to the block along with a variety of prints. Some of them blend so well together that at first glance, they look like one block…until you look closer and see that they are made of many small squares.
Sometimes, you can look at a beautiful quilt with a variety of colors and prints. They may not even appear to have much that should make them go together, but somehow, the master quilter who put them together in the design managed to combine them in a way that makes them look beautiful!
Are you seeing any parallels? We are all in submission to our Master Designer. But as a group in a local Body, we are also under the Godly leadership of the Body of leaders and Pastor(s). We need their leadership for order but they need God’s leadership as well. All of us need to be submitting to God. We need to be praying for our leaders…and often!
Have you seen the Master Designer at work in your Church Community? Is He making something beautiful out of a diverse group of people who may not appear to have much in common?
I’m not talking about perfection. When we look for perfection in relationships or in art, we WILL be disappointed…always. Watch for our next installment on being a Quilty Church.
Are there better ways for your family to wrap up into the quilt of your Church Community? Or wrap others into it?
Are you learning to love people you wouldn’t normally be drawn to? Are you beginning to accept the blessings of people who are gifted differently from you? Welcome to the quilty community of Christ!