We Can Use All The Crayons...
A group of people are sitting around a table coloring. You sit down with them, and notice something. They are all using the green crayon. Every picture is green. There are plenty of colors to choose from in the middle of the table, but they all seem content to use the color green. They talk and laugh as they color. They all look very happy to be doing the same thing, using the same color, as if they aren't even aware that all their pictures look the same. You look around the table, and you start to get a little nervous because, well, you want to be a part of the group but...
You don't want to color with the green crayon.
You prefer purple. Actually, you prefer using all the crayons. It's more fun to use all the colors. You're worried, though. You sense that if you reach for a different color, everyone is going to stare at you in shock, or worse..
Still, something in you says, "Pick up the purple one!" So, in what seems like slow motion...you go for the purple. Your hand wraps around that little purple crayon and as it does, the table grows silent. You hear green crayons drop to the table, you hear gasps, and then you look at their faces and see the shock and confusion.
"What are you doing?" one person asks.
"I-I just wanted to color with you guys," you respond, softly.
"We don't use the other colors. We only use green," another person says, very matter-of-fact.
"Why?" you ask.
They all look around the table at each other. Another person shrugs, "It's just what we've always done. Besides, we like all our pictures to look the same." They all hold up their pictures for you to see, as if it will convince you to agree with them. Each one looks proud of their drawing. Are you missing something? All you see is the same picture, repeated. "Well, I would like to try using other colors," you say with a smile.
"Um, I don't think we can let you color with us if you do that," someone says in a fearful voice.
"But, why?" you ask.
"Well, it just isn't what we do. We all use green. It's easier that way," someone responds.
You still don't understand, so you decide to show them. You start coloring your picture in purple and you sense them all staring at you wide eyed and slack jawed. You color with purple, then you grab blue, then yellow and so on until you finish your picture. You look at it and smile, proud of your little piece of art. You hold it up to show the group of silent, shocked individuals.
"See how great it looks!" You say that with hope that they will see what you see. Yes, it's different from their pictures, but it is your picture and you love it.
"Well, i-it does look nice," one person says, looking around the the little group tentatively. "Could you show me how to do that?" Someone else whispers.
You smile. "It isn't hard. Choosing to use another color is the hardest part."
"But, I like green," someone else says uncertain and a little timid. "Then green is the color for you!" you respond.
You pick up the blue crayon and reach it out to the person next to you with a smile. With shaky fingers, that person takes the blue crayon, and stares at it a moment. Then, it's as if a light comes on inside of him, and he looks at you and smiles.
"I can use blue!" he says, excitedly.
"Indeed. You can use blue, yellow, green, purple," you respond.
Someone else at the table timidly reaches for the yellow, and then another reaches for orange...and another...and another. Before you know it, everyone has started coloring a new picture, using all the colors. The table buzzes with excitement, with the discovery that it's okay to color with all the colors. Someone holds up their picture for you to see, so proud of it, and you nod with a big smile. The other's start showing off their pictures to each other. None of the pictures look exactly the same and they all notice it. They compliment each other's pictures and no one is afraid anymore of their picture being different.
They are excited now because all their pictures are different.
You sit back and watch with satisfaction. The group is more alive now than it was when everyone used the color green. Their personalities are coming to life, there is an energy around the table that wasn't there before. Coming together and allowing their differences to shine brought new life to this group.
They are different, but they are still together, and it's beautiful to watch...
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:12-27