Unlikely Friends

Did you read The Wind in the Willows to your kids? Or do you remember it from your youth? As I recall, Lynn read it to our children in the car while on longer trips. I would catch parts of it here and there. The story concerns the friendship of four animals who live on the banks of the Thames River. Toad, Rat, Mole, and Badger are the best of friends, despite their differences.

And then there is the Wizard of Oz. The story also puts an unlikely foursome together—Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, and the Scarecrow. Each are needy and incomplete in their own right, but a bond forms as they travel the Yellow Brick Road hoping the Wizard will help them.

Each of these stories would be completely different if they took a typical approach. Perhaps this is a reason the above are classics. The Wind in the Willows is not a story about toads, or rats, or moles, or badgers. It is the unity discovered between improbable friends. The Wizard of Oz is the same. An implausible and stalwart union is formed between four very different characters.

And therein is the church. Because God calls all kinds of different people out of all kinds of backgrounds, the church is an assortment of tongues, tribes, and nations. Said another way, the church is a mixed bag of people. When a local church starts to look like a collection of toads, or a collection of rats; or when the local church starts to look like a collection of tin men, or a collection of scarecrows; that is a church that has lost something dear.

When a church is made up of marrieds and non-marrieds; rich and poor; old and young; black and white; big families and small families; highly educated and the not so much—that church has been given a gift.

The Gospel not only brings reconciliation between God and man; the Gospel also brings reconciliation between people. And that is powerful to see, and even more powerful to experience. After all, moles and badgers are not supposed to get along. And how is Dorothy who wants to shop for red shoes supposed to enjoy the company of a lion who would rather hunt?

I suppose there are some examples out there where a business, employed by all kinds, learns how to pull in the same direction. I know there are examples in the sport world, where a team lays down their individuality in pursuit of a common goal. But most businesses never get there and most teams do not either.

It is the church, however, where this is to be commonplace. Friendships are to be forged between people who otherwise would not outside the church. “Birds of a feather flock together” says the old proverb. That is true “out there” but it is not to be true “in here”.

This is where Toad, Rat, Mole, and Badger hang out; this is where Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow become buds. If you feel you are not part of this story, introduce yourself to three new people during the fellowship time this week. That is where your improbable friendship may begin.

Come be part of the story. Rats are kind of fun, by the way. And Lions are not that dangerous. And behind our curtain really is Someone who is pulling all the levers and pushing all the buttons. You can meet Him here, too.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
April 15, 2021

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