There are 3 ice cream cones on my wall. They were hung there by my three littlest school age children: aged 8, 6, and 3. As I watched them place their individual pieces of artwork up I observed some interesting behavior that could be applied to what we sometimes see happening amongst those who profess to be Christians.
The oldest of the three stood on the floor and reached as high as she could before placing her paper ice cream cone. It was well drawn; proportionately correct as well as beautifully colored: one scoop of peppermint chocolate a top a triangular cone.
Then my six year old placed his extra long and very thinly shaped, but beautifully colored paper ice cream cone next to hers. It was twice as long and 1/10th of the width of his sisters and had too many flavored scoops to count all stacked up on top of one another. The size of the cone could never have held up all that ice cream! BUT, it was his interpretation and it was perfect for Him in His own way.
Now about this time, my 8 year old had scooted a chair over, stood on it, and reached yet higher up the wall to reattach hers, almost within a foot of the ceiling! Then my son stood and placed his even higher, placing it upside down in his eagerness to be yet higher. Then his big sister began “helping him” to attain the height at which she had attained thereby removing him from the experience of being able to display his handiwork at all, but not quite as high as her own.
I stepped in and told my son the artwork belonged to him and he had the right to hang it. Then I gently corrected my 8 year old about not helping unless someone had asked her to do so.
My 6 year old is used to his older siblings “helping” which isn’t always helping, you see. Sometimes the helping causes fights because it takes away from someone learning to take ownership and the responsibility of behavior, actions, and choices. I’m learning too!
Finally, my 3 year old, having originally stood on the chair and had attached what looked to be a lone scoop of ice cream drawn on paper, proceeded to pay no attention to her high flying siblings and with great care and patience attached 3 more separate pieces of paper to the wall that were all part of her “ice cream cone.” She was much more interested in talking about her work, such as telling me all the flavors and what they stood for, even though no one but her could really see it to appreciate it.
I then chuckled to myself as I began to see yet another analogy…. I then asked why they were trying to attach them so high; “so everyone could see what I drew” was the response. The new interpretation was the higher, the better, the more value, etc. My 6 year old even suggested he could hang his on the ceiling! My three year old didn’t seem to care… she was just so happy to use scissors and blue sticky tac and have what she made acknowledged as an ice cream cone, although barely recognizable.
The original analogy is this: mature believers can try to help yet really be hindering, all though done with good motivation and in love. There are mature Christian believers who have a great witness and good works to display yet struggle tremendously with pride.
There are also a multitude of believers who love Jesus out there, trying to do their best for Him in their own way but wouldn't necessarily win a great Christian of the year award or perhaps their theology is a bit off or they interpret something, gasp, differently then we do. It's OK, God will make known to them the truth, just as He has made it know to you. Be patient.
Then, there's the new believer who often doesn't seem to care what people think and sometimes look anything but Christian. All though their hearts quite possibly are closer to God's because they care more about what He thinks.
We Christians are no different than these little children! Why do we want our work or ministry to be the best or the right way? What was the original assignment given to us by God? None of my children were able to do the assignment the way that I’d asked them. Originally it was supposed to have been a math assignment with numbers and separate cone scoops. Ironically, the 3 year old came the closest to having done it correctly, although she just didn’t have the motor skills to make it look very real. It wasn’t her fault, she’d listened the closest and done her best and was happy. I was amazed.
Have any of us Christians actually even come close to doing God’s assignment right or completed it in any shape or form? He has many… love your neighbor as yourself, love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, be ready in season and out of season to share the Word, train up your children, respect your husbands, love your wives, obey your parents, on and on it goes.
How well have you completed your assignments? You’ve been given gifts to help build up the church, have you used them selfishly or for the good of others? We are all trying and are all in different stages. Perhaps we should quit trying to help one another display our art and let God do the directing.
Paul's prayer was that our love would, "abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (discernment); that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." (Phil. 1:9-11)
God is the master artist, building in us, through us and for us a beautiful eternal home. He applauds everyone’s efforts no matter what they look. He acknowledges us as His own not because we deserve it but because He’s promised us salvation through Jesus Christ alone. What a wonderful loving God we have!
Today, my little ice cream cone drawers have gone on to bigger things....easel painting in the bright sun... let's go out and see what they're up to now...