Yeah, I’ve been before the audience gathered to hear the word of God, only to respond to my heart-felt pleas for action and repentance like, well, a brick wall. But, that’s not so bad. Like the text today suggests, we are all made out of clay, fashioned by His hands, for His purposes. I believe one of those purposes to be a brick wall. Let me explain.
When we build with brick, we expect every brick to be identical, otherwise, in our limited abilities, we will have trouble fitting all the pieces together. With all the pieces identical, they all fit together to make the solid pattern we need to create a stable and sturdy wall. We then expect this wall to do many things for us, namely to protect us from the elements, the heat and cold, the wind and the rain. Only a well-fitted brick wall will do this. If one of the bricks were loose or fell out, suddenly our barrier is no longer solid. That single break in the wall will only expand, causing more trouble until the brick void is refilled. In a Church where everyone is expected to maintain their moral integrity, even one person who backslides becomes a threat to the whole. Because we are also bound together in love. When one person backslides, the rest of us work to restore and maintain that person (theoretically) or (more realistically) the rest shame and ostracize that person so that there is a gap in the wall. Unless that gap is refilled, the wall itself begins to lose integrity.
God puts every person in the wall of the Church’s strength intentionally. Everyone has their place. If one person decides that this Church is not for them, or that sin sounds sweeter, that person’s role in the Church suffers and will do so until it is filled again. This is why you have so many small churches suffering, flailing with a patchwork of brick, of people who are filling not only their own roles but covering for someone else who left or who died. Because they can’t cover roles they are not gifted for, those roles fail, that person get discouraged, and they too leave for a church “wall” that is more filled. Many of these small churches were once big (believe me, they will tell you of the days when they were big, and had so many bricks that they were standing in the aisles), but now only the handful that’s left hang on to the memories. They are a brick wall about to topple because they’ve tried to cover too much area with too few bricks. Because there are gaping holes they let through a host of false teaching and acceptance of immorality because “That’s how we’re going to get people back”, or more likely, “We don’t want to offend that new couple who are living together because that they might leave.” They lose the ability to rebuke sin because they can’t afford to lose anyone. They think that building with straw and wood will be just as good as brick. We’ll look the other way so they’ll at least keep coming.
Do you see it? I’ve seen it. I’ve wrung my hands in frustration at folks admitted into leadership whose morality is questionable, and seen the ugly side of church politics when that happens. Small churches get smaller. Resources get squandered. And small churches die.
We are clay. God fashions us into exactly the people that He wants for each fellowship. If you are unhappy with your place in the church, you can’t complain to the church. They didn’t mold you. However, if you feel like you are being stretched to cover too much space in the wall, maybe you need to stop trying so hard so that someone else God is molding to fill that space can. I don’t have the all answers here, and I may even be stretching the analogy a bit (you think?). But one thing I have noticed across several ministries: I see the same people in every church. They have different names and faces, but the same people exist, filling the same kinds of roles in the church’s structure. I believe that is God’s providence and giftedness at work, gifting people in the church to fulfill their part in the body.
Something to think about today. Remember your gifts. To use your gifts is to build up the body of Christ. God bless you today!