“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Luke 20:18 NIV
A few years back I was able to go to Rio de Janeiro in Brasil (yes that is spelled right). Almost everyone in the world had seen Rio in the movies and it is instantly recognizable because of the giant statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched. I was able to visit this statue and something struck me more than anything else. It is an impressive 100 ft. statue but it isn’t the height that struck me, it was the fact that this statue was actually a mosaic.
For those of you who don’t know what a mosaic is (you uncultured swine), it is an art form where the artist takes broken pieces of tile and puts then together to make a design. You’ve no doubt seen plenty of them usually as a patio table or countertops. They are very time consuming and sometimes you have to take those broken pieces and chip and file them to make them fit your need. The end result is something completely unique and beautiful.
In the favelas (the neighborhoods where all the poor people live) there is another impressive mosaic. In Brasil if you are born poor you will likely die poor. If you live in the favelas, no matter hard you work or how good you are at your job, you will most likely die in the favelas. This mosaic is at the home of a tile worker, on a porch in front of his house. It is made up of tile left over from various jobs this man had, he never let a single piece go to waste. It’s not huge and to be honest there is no discernible pattern in the tile work. Using scraps you don’t really get to match your color wheels. What makes this particular mosaic so beautiful is the reason it exists.
You see this tile worker held a bible study in his house every Thursday night,for anyone who wanted to join. He ran into a problem though, he didn’t have enough room in his living room for all the people that wanted to come listen about a man named Jesus. People would stand outside his front door and the windows to listen. When it would rain, people would stand outside in the mud to listen. He couldn’t afford to make a bigger living room, but he could take left over material and make a covered porch. He couldn’t lay the beautiful tile floors he put in the houses of the elite in Brasil, but he could take the scrap from those jobs and make a mosaic porch. Because he loved people he came home everyday from work, and made a place people could hear about love and hope, something in very short order in the favelas, and do so dry. None of this would have been possible without broken tiles.
It’s been more than well documented that the perception of people in the church are people who have it all together. I think to some extent we perpetuate this myth. We have like our services neat and orderly, peaceful and docile. We like the people there to think like us, sometimes we even prefer them to look like us, whether you read that as skin tone or clothing. We put off the illusion that because we are regular attenders and involved in a ministry, we have it all together. We are complete and whole people. The problem with that is, in my opinion, God has no use for whole people.
In my opinion God designed his kingdom to be a mosaic. And there is no place for whole people in the kingdom. In fact to be a part of the kingdom of heaven you have to be broken. Luke says that anyone that really comes into contact with Jesus is either broken on or by him. Contact with Christ removes the illusion that we can hold it together. The church should be full of broken people.
Now I don’t mean to say we need to come into church sad faced and weeping, though it should be ok if you do. But we need to understand that we are all broken, ugly, and useless on our own. It’s the Master that takes those pieces, gives them a place, gives them a purpose, and makes them a part of something beautiful. He knows where they goes and what they should be doing. He knows what parts need to be trimmed and shaped. Romans 14 basically says its not our place to determine where the pieces go but to find awe in being a part if God’s work.
Can you imagine if the Christ statue in Rio had a tile missing and you managed to see it? It would still be impressive but wouldn’t it seem incomplete? It would almost be sad. Every tile is needed for the statue to be as beautiful as it possibly can. Every piece is needed, even the ones we don’t like. What if you noticed that one tile was slightly different from the ones around it? You’d have to tell people that the statue really wasn’t that great because there was a tile you didn’t like on it. Can you imagine some one saying that?
When you stop seeing the kingdom for the beautiful creation it is, chances are you are focusing too much on the tiles and missing the 100 ft. demonstration of love and acceptance. You are broken, you are ugly, and we need you together with us to be as beautiful as we can be. Alone we are worthless together we are priceless.