At first glance, when you drive by any school at recess the whole thing looks like a bunch of random kids descending into chaos bordered by a fence to keep it all from spilling out into the streets. But there’s much more going on than the quick peek tells you. There are all kinds of petty little groups that make up the playground. It kind of reminds me of church.
The Presbyterians head outside into recess and can’t believe the lack of order going on. They try their darnedest to get some organized games happening, but the Baptists aren’t having it. They’re too far separated from all the other kids to care about playing with any of them. Besides, nobody is playing by the rules and if there’s one thing Baptists can’t stand is a lack of legalism. The Pentecostals all seem completely oblivious to anything that’s going on. They’re just having too much fun going as fast as they can on the merry-go-round to see that the Catholics are totally aghast at their lack of guilt feelings over hogging the equipment.
The little group of Episcopalians are lost in some funky inferiority complex and retreat into their liturgical games while the popular kids, the Non-denominational group, break out singing Chris Tomlin songs so loud that the Methodists go scrambling for their Book of Discipline to see what to do about it. The Lutheran kids are so busy fighting each other about who is the true Lutheran that they can’t hear the non-denom kids anyway. And the Reformed are those annoying kids who keep acting like the teacher instead of just enjoying being a kid on the playground.
There are two things about the church playground: the groups of kids don’t play very well together; and, the entire playground thinks it’s the only one in town. They don’t realize there are other playgrounds with all kinds of other kids.
We live in a big world. How we interact with that world is going to determine if the school gets shut down, with no more playground. After all, what parent wants to send their kid to the school where nobody gets along with each other?
What’s more, how we interact with each other on the playground of Christianity says a lot about our view of God. For far too many groups, God is the high and lofty Principal who’s only seen when something goes wrong, not realizing that he is really the encouraging teacher who’s daily in the classroom offering kind words and self-sacrifice that changes your life forever.
Instead of lamenting that Christendom has vanished from its grand position in society and that the moral fabric of our country is down the toilet along with the janitor’s cigarette butt, maybe we should stop giving the other kid a swirlie long enough to see that our bullying and belligerent ways are anything but the words and ways of Jesus to a world who needs spiritual care, not spiritual abuse.
I’d suggest we use our detention time to think about what we’ve done.