Two of my favorite places to be on a Sunday are Church and IKEA. Now most people wouldn’t think of these places as being at all alike, but I think that they have many superficial similarities. Welcoming staff, activities to entertain the kids while the adults explore, the opportunity to have a meal in the middle of the journey, nice restrooms with helpful supplies for parents, a mysterious but attractive language only known to insiders. I think that there are some deeper similarities as well between an IKEA and a faith community that are successfully living out their respective missions. The first is that they both invite those who walk through their doors to go on a journey. They say “start here, follow this path, and let’s see where it will lead you.” Each person’s journey will be different…stoping and lingering at some points, barely glancing at others. No matter what though, both places will offer those walking on this path scenes of how their world could be different. At IKEA, this means color coordination and efficient use of space, but in the church, this means seeing a vision of how the world might be different if it were more like God created it to be. Then they both do something really radical in a culture driven by convenience and consumerism…they each have the audacity to tell us that we have to do some of the work. They have shown us the vision, given us the tools, and now it is up to us to take them out into the world and make it look more like the vision we saw on our journey. What tools? Well at IKEA it is generally an Allen Wrench and a set of vague instructions. In the Church however, we are given much better tools. Primarily the life changing experience of God’s love and the promise that we will not be alone as we seek to respond to it. When we have trouble making the vision come to life, we have access to a never fail customer service line and a community of fellow builders that beats any online crowdsourcing site. Now just like building that Poang chair can be more challenging than we thought it should be, living into and sharing God’s love isn’t always easy…but on my best days, when I am able to truly be open to it, I am able to feel that love so completely that it spills out of me and into the rest of my life effortlessly and begins to help build the vision of the Kingdom of God that we learn about each Sunday.
My prayer for all of us is that we might be that open, that we might take some steps on that journey, that we might see and experience a clear vision, and that we might use the tools that we have been given to help build God’s Kingdom of love and grace. Now…stretching metaphors can make one hungry…I think I’m going to go have some meatballs. 😉
-Joe Snavely is a child of God, a Husband to Sharon and Father to John, Joseph, and Sofia, a lover of Swedish furniture and British Mysteries, and serves as Lay Chaplain at Bethany School.