“For the church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different, (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.” – C.S. Lewis
Ever seen the musical “A Chorus Line”?
It is the story of a director trying to put together a cast for a show featuring a chorus line. A chorus line is a large group of dancers that perform synchronized routines (think “The Rockettes”). Each dancer wants the job, and does their best to catch the directors eye.
Watch the opening scene of “A Chorus Line” here – A Chorus Line Opening
Each actor battles for a spot. They hope they get it. Are they being noticed enough? How many can be included? Will they be sent away? An Actor’s anxiety can be crippling as their whole life hangs in the balance of the audition.
But what is the end result of all this work? Well, watch the end song of “A Chorus Line” here – A Chorus Line One
Isn’t that just pretty? All actors working as one with each step, kick, and turn.
It is a beautiful thing to see on stage, but it is an ugly thing to see inside a church (and I’m not talking about doing the musical inside the church).
A five, six, seven, eight…
In I Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul describes the church as a body. Every person has a unique part to play and a way in which to be for the edification of the saints and the glory of Jesus.
However, is this the image the church shines forth? Unfortunately, no. Christians have become more like members of a chorus line. We learn the steps, we hope we are not kicked out, and we stay in our line. If an event at our church happens, we are able to quickly find our cue marks as the leadership yells, “A five, six, seven, eight..” and the one, unified performance begins.
Each right step for a chorus line Christian focuses on appearance, music tastes, Bible study methods, Bible translation used, the following of non-essential doctrines (i.e. election, pre/post-tribulation, the cessation or continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, etc.), and many, many other pivots, plies, and leaps. The dance looks beautiful and unified only if each Christian in the church follows each step precisely. Without these steps, we end up looking like an unpolished play that the world might not see as different enough.
But, in reality, living as a chorus line Christian is not biblical. Focusing on the steps of the chorus line Christian life takes away at least two things that God gave us:
1.) God gave us the gift of our own unique view of his world.
2.) God gave us the gift of our own unique path in the life he wrote for us.
These two gifts are core elements to a Christian life. Unless we fully understand how these relate to the church being described as a body, then we are doomed to be a chorus line Christian.
seeing God’s world differently
In Psalm 139:13-14, David praises God for the way God made him. Many of the Psalms are filled with David’s songs and dances for God. He saw the world through artistic expression. To David, God is the creator who is mighty, full of faithful love, and is to be sung about.
In Daniel 6:10, Daniel prays to God as his routine and life centered around prayer. The book of Daniel is full of stories of Daniel seeing God’s world as under sovereign control. His response is dutiful prayer to the sovereign King who sets up thrones and demolishes thrones.
In 1 John 1:1-2, John is in awe of the life, light, and love of Jesus. John’s life is dedicated to showing the world Christ’s love after seeing it in person. His response is to show love to one another after being loved by Jesus; who takes away the sins of the world.
David, Daniel, and John… Each one had a unique way of seeing the world and seeing God. All those things are true about God, but each individual responded to one aspect of God in certain ways.
With each of us, we see the world differently. We see God differently. Some of us are captured by the holiness of God, or the love of God, or the incarnation of God, or the sovereignty of God, or any other aspect. When our hearts are captured by that one thing of God, then our response is in line with that aspect of God. Some will cheer, wave palm branches, and shout, “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:1-11). Some will be more intimate; bowing at the feet of Jesus, crying out their sorrows, and wiping his feet in worship (Luke 7:36-50).
God has created each one of us to see something the other doesn’t. That special something causes us to worship God in a way that is different and good. Our worship then turns into how we interact with the world around us. This is how being the body of Christ looks like. Our unique relationship with God spills out onto the world like droplets of watercolor staining a canvas.
The path before us
When we live as a chorus line Christian, we miss the beauty of God writing our story. A chorus line Christian assumes all Christian lives need to be in step with theirs’. The path must look the same. Christians must look similar to each other. We must all be circumcised! Oh, sorry… too far?
It becomes all about the one church denomination, the one doctrines, the one music taste, the one appearance, the one translation, and the one way of living the Christian life.
However, reality would say that is false. When you meet Christians from other cultures, you will quickly see how their life for Jesus may look very different than yours. The gospel does not change, but the way in which we live it out will change.
God has created a path for each of us to run, and called us specifically for such a time as this (Hebrews 12:1; Esther 4:14).
Each of us have a story to tell, a path to walk, and a life written by God. It will look different than mine, and it will look different than yours. If we refuse to acknowledge the uniqueness of the path God has given each person, then we are doomed to live in a chorus line mindset.
One body; not one singular sensation
At the end of the musical “A Chorus Line,” we see this beautiful number; and singular sensation. We yearn for our churches to be the same. We yearn for our Christian life to be like that. We want to be in synch with each other in our steps, outfits, and kicks. So, we set up the church to be an audition hall for our chorus line.
Where does that leave people? Wondering if they got the part, wondering if they are included, wondering if they are good enough, and walking away in shame or holding their head up high. A chorus line mindset in the church, honestly, gives love a worse name than Satan could ever do.
Christians were never meant to wear gold, lamé outfits with tap shoes.
We were meant to be the body of Christ – many, unique members, with a unique calling for the glory of Jesus (I Corinthians 12:12-27).
Think about all the amazing gifts, talents, and lives we are keeping on the sidelines, because we have a chorus line Christian mindset. What could those individuals do for the glory of God if we gave them a chance to be themselves? What would the world look like if we gave up our one singular sensation and became the one body we are called to be?
Each of us have a unique way of seeing God’s world and responding to it. Each of us have our God-written journey ahead of us. Our differences are only the enemies if we forget to unify around Christ.
So, which kind of Christian do you want to be? A one singular sensation concerned about parts, steps, and image? Or a Christian encouraging the body of Christ to grow?
It is up to us to stop the chorus line and start living as the one body.