One of the hottest toys when I was a kid was Stretch Armstrong toy by Hasbro. This aptly named rubber muscleman knew how to survive Christmas Eve in the hands of a robust boy. If you are going to thrive, or even survive in the Calvary family, or in any local church family, taking on the elasticity of this ancient toy is essential.
Elasticity is an essential quality for every follower of Jesus in every local church. In fact, the ability to stretch one’s comforts and preferences for the benefit of others is one of the most Christ like attributes His apprentices can have. The word the Bible uses for this elasticity is humility. Jesus models this elasticity in Phil 2:6-8
“…who, although he existed in the form of God, he (Jesus) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
To paraphrase, God stretched. He let go of His rights, comforts, and preferences for the benefit of others. So what? Well, now look at what comes immediately before the ellipse (…) in verse 6:
“Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
As apprentices of Jesus, how elastic are we? How much of Jesus’ ability to willingly, even joyfully, stretch outside our comfort zones, our ‘rights’, and our preferences for the benefit of others? Now let me ask you a question: Where in this having-it-your-way world of self-assertion are we ever going to joyfully stretch for the benefit of others if this elasticity is not habitually modeled in the Calvary family and faithfully practiced by Calvary families in our homes?
Worship is a prime example of our inability to stretch. If Marion firing up an organ prelude of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is not your cup of tea, take a moment to peek down your row. You’ll see the dear older couple holding hands in the presence of Jesus with tears streaming down their cheeks. And when the driving band and clapping hands are prompting you to seriously considering joining a monastery, consider the young single in front of you warming up to one day help the Heavens themselves reverberate with praise.
Unlike my childhood toy, because of our baggage and brokenness, there are some things each of us just can’t stretch without breaking. If how Calvary does what we do is not on the same page on one of these crucial areas to you, it is probably better to call it a day and find a different church. But in whatever church family you connect, there will be several things, or perhaps many things, that you find odd or even annoying. I hope so. God wants to use these things to help you grow in the characteristic of humility. To become more like Jesus.