Thursday, June 13, 2013

One Strange Herd

“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 the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:12-13, 27)

   One day, my grandchildren wanted me to watch the movie, “Ice Age.” “Ice Age” is an animated movie about a wooly mammoth named Manfred, a sloth named Sid, and a saber-tooth tiger named Diego. These three unlikely companions discover a little boy and unite on a common mission to return the baby to his father.

  While on their journey they realized that they are on top of an erupting volcano, which was melting the glacier bridge on the ice field. Diego jumps to reach the others and falls short, he loses his grip and falls. Manfred unwilling to let Diego perish leaps into the chasm and tosses the tiger to safety. Diego is moved by Manfred's compassion, courage and sacrifice in this dangerous rescue.

  “Why did you do that?” Diego asks. “You could have died trying to save me.”

  Humbly, the mammoth responds, “That's what you do when you're part of a herd. You look after each other.”

  Reflecting on the circumstances that brought these three together, Sid muses aloud, “I don't know about you guys, but we are one strange herd.”

  Whenever I think of the church, I often think of this odd collection of individuals God has called together for His purposes to become His church, “this one strange herd.” The church is called out into the world by Christ as a expression of all that is good, acceptable and perfect in God's sight. God is His wisdom calls together the strangest collection of people full of failures, faults, sins and shortcomings but still remains confident that we can become Christ's church.

  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, “Life Together” speaks about this one strange herd, “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty… then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Christ Jesus.”

Friday, June 7, 2013

There are no DNF's in Christ's Church

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

  My favorite sport is NASCAR. I have enjoyed watching NASCAR races since about 2000. My favorite driver is Matt Kenseth, the number 20 of Joe Gibbs' Racing. I have watched and followed his career, since he was a rookie in the Sprint Cup Series when he drove the number 17 for Roush-Fenway Racing.

   Kenseth, so far in his career, has won 24 Sprint Cup races and one Championship. He is doing quite well this year with three wins, 3 Top Five finishes, and 7 Top Ten finishes and he is currently fourth in Championship points. Unfortunately, he also had three DNF's or in racing terms it means, “Did-Not-Finish” race. A driver's greatest disappointment is to have a DNF due to a wreck or a mechanical
problem. Last Sunday, at Dover his engine failed while he was running in the top five.

   A DNF hurts a driver's overall score in the Championship points race. Despite Kenseth's three DNF's he is still fourth in the points standings, which is not bad. Without the DNF's he would be much closer in points to leader Jimmy Johnson or possibly in first place ahead of Johnson.

   When a driver faces the possibility of a DNF due to a crash or other mechanical problem his crew chief and pit crew will determine if repairs can be make to get the driver back out on the track and help them finish the race, even if they end several laps down from the leaders. Crews often will work quickly to get the car running again and help the driver finish 25th or better rather than 35thor 40th. This can make a big difference in overall points for the championship. With an engine failure, they can not do anything because NASCAR rules don't allow an engine change once the race begins.

   I like NASCAR in part because despite the attention given to the drivers, it is really about a team of individuals working together to get the driver across the finish line, hopefully with a win. How a NASCAR pit crew operations reminds me often of how the church should operate. We help each other to finish the race.