Suppose I live in one room of a house my entire life. I never leave this room and this room has only one window looking outside. To me, this window-view of the outside world—the trees, the hills, the sky—is the only view. To me, this is what the outside world looks like: what I see out of my one window. It is all I have ever known or seen of outdoor reality, so to me, it is reality, it is truth. If someone were to ask me what the great outdoors looks like, I would describe (and likely defend) my view from my window…as I should, it is all I’ve ever known.
But one day, I hear a tap at my door. Expecting it to be locked like all the other times, I try to open it and to my surprise, it opens. There is a kind, old man (there is always an old man in good stories) standing in a hallway which I’ve never seen. He greets me and leads me to another door down the hall. He slowly opens it, revealing another room. Cautiously and with great hesitation, I step in and am floored. This new room is very different from mine and it too has a window looking outside. I slowly approach it, drawing back its curtain, and for the first time discover a new view of the outside world. There’s a house and a road and a dog that I have never seen before, but were there all along—simply out of view from my previous all-I’ve-ever-known window. My outside world just altered and with it brings both excitement and knee shaking disequilibrium. Reality as I knew it changed. The old man smiles at the gift he has given me.
He takes my hand and leads me to another room, and another, and another…each a bit different and each with a new window exposing a distinctive and unique view of the great outdoors. After the first few rooms, I begin to settle into the fact that the outside world is much different and bigger than what I had previously known. I actually begin to anticipate that with each new room and window, the actual reality of the outside world will be fuller known to me. What I once feared—or never knew—now brings the excitement of discovery.
The old man sits me down in the living room and tells me that the house—his house—is mine to explore. All the rooms and windows are available to me, and much like Extreme Home Makeover, releases me to joyfully discover my new house. I run off doing just that! Each room and window is a gift of reality-discovery.
After some time, he finds me and takes my hand once more. I am tired. He takes me to a yet another door—a new door. As he turns the knob I am expecting to find another room with yet another window-view. He opens the door. Fresh air rushes in. The streaming sunlight is both blinding and spectacular; my skin reacts to its warmth. Glass no longer separates me from, or limits my view of, the great outdoors. He leads me outside to now finally experience the full reality of the great outdoors…not through windows, but in actual, absolute reality. The scents, the sounds, the breeze, the sun—they all explode with life! Once again, my reality shatters as his reality emerges.
He lets go of my hand and runs outside, stops and turns back towards me, “Come on, what are you waiting for!” he shouts. I snap out of my trance and run, skipping with laughter, into the great outdoors.
How do you react to this story? What does this story mean to you?
To me, this is my analogy of what my experience walking with different expressions of the Christian faith has been like. To me, each expression offered new insight and discovery into God’s reality—that the sum of the Christian expressions were more truth-ful than one sole expression. This is the beauty of the body of Christ and perhaps what Paul meant when he described Christ’s body-parts as eyes, noses, arms, hands, feet, etc. —each needing each other. May we learn to embrace each expression rather than expel it. ‘Cause one day, we’ll see God’s real reality in its fullness and find out that we, as finite humans, were all wrong to one degree or another.
Heck, in the end, I’ll be amazed if I got 7% of God’s truth correct!