Running With The Big Dogs
Somewhere between Alexandria and New Orleans stands a little Church building in a small, almost rural community that could tell quite a story. From the looks of the housing in and around the community, I would venture to say that these folks are very poor. Everything around them displayed a very low level of income. Their church building was a straight design, somewhat narrow and very plain. It had no steeple or fancy designs like those in the larger communities and especially those in New Orleans. It was just plain. The roof was a standard 4/12 pitch, just like you see on most of the older houses around you. Actually, the building was a modest “shotgun” design. From the construction, it was obvious that the building was built in the 1960’s. The windows were about three feet wide and five feet tall with about two feet between each one. There were four panes of glass in each window, one on top of the other stretching from one side of the window to the other. They too were very plain. There was a set of concrete steps leading up to the modest entrance doors with a small hand rail made from something like one inch galvanized water pipe anchored to one side. This building was very plain.
This building caught my eye one time before when I traveled that road, and I suppose that’s why I looked at it so intently this time. I wanted to study it and know it and try to understand something about the people who assemble there. I was so keyed in to the structure that I never took the time to look at their modest little sign and see what kind of church it was. I guess, for our purposes here, anyway, that really doesn’t matter.
When I saw this little church building my mind instantly recalled what God’s people of old said when they looked around them and saw that they were different than the other nations. “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”(I Samuel 8:4-5). Basically they were saying, “We want to run with the big dogs, too.”
In almost any community in South Louisiana you will find Church buildings lifting themselves in pride and glory, flaunting their steeples and magnificent stained glass windows. Somehow, someway, it must be more holy and more spiritual to have these testimonies of extravagance adorning these magnificent shrines to God. It is, however, very disturbing as you watch the poor and lonely of the world pass through the doors of such extravagance, only to depart with less than they had when they entered.
Let me share with you the real thing that got my attention about this little Church building. Please understand that I am not making fun of anyone. I’m only telling you what it looked like. As I told you before, this little building was very plain. Do you remember the windows? It seemed that in an attempt to be like the “big dogs,” these folks modified the windows a bit. Since they evidently could not afford the stained glass “like the nations around them,” they carefully painted each pane of glass one of four colors. One was yellow, one green, one blue and the other red. I know how proud they must have been once the windows were painted, but honestly, they stood out like a sore thumb.
As the miles passed by in the rear view mirror, I thought intently how ridiculous those windows looked. A smile almost broke out on my face and chuckle almost came up my throat… until reality struck. It was then and there that I realized how much alike we are with these folks. Their pretense was stained glass windows, but how is that different from a Christian who pretends that everything in his world is wonderful when his or her life is falling apart? How is it different from those who put up a front to make people think more highly of them than they really are? How is that different from a family that hides their struggles and passes themselves off as a model for others?
These folks in this little Church would be better off to remove the paint from the windows and just be themselves. On the other hand, it might be a wonderful idea if you and I would get out the paint scrapers and do the same thing.