This material accompanied the sermon CHARITY CHURCH from the sermon series: Be the Body – Seeing the Church as the Body in the Bible and Making the Body a Priority in the Present by Pastor Howard Lawler on 1/21/18.

Nose and Hand were sitting in the church pew talking. The morning service, led by Ear and Mouth, had just ended, and Hand was telling Nose that he and his family had decided to look for a different church. “Really?” Nose responded to Hand’s news. “Why?” “Oh, I don’t know,” Hand said, looking down. He was usually slower to speak than other members of the church body. “I guess because the church doesn’t have what Mrs. Hand and I are looking for.” “Well, what are you looking for in a church?” Nose asked. The tone in which he spoke these words was sympathetic. But even as he was speaking them he knew he would dismiss Hand’s answer. If the Hands couldn’t see that Nose and the rest of the leadership were pointing the church body in the right direction, the body could do without them. Hand had to think before answering. He and Mrs. Hand liked Pastor Mouth and his family. And Minister of Music Ear meant well. “Well, I guess we’re looking for a place where people are more like us,” Hand finally stammered. “We tried spending time with the Legs, but we didn’t connect with them. Next we joined the small group for all the Toes. But they kept talking about socks and shoes and odors. And that didn’t interest us.” Nose looked at him this time with genuine dismay: “Aren’t you glad they’re concerned with odors?!” “Sure, sure. But it’s not for us. Then we attended the Sunday School for all your facial features. Do you remember? We came for several Sundays a couple months ago?” “It was great to have you.” “Thank you. But everyone just wanted to talk, and listen, and smell, and taste. It felt like, well, it felt like you never wanted to get to work and get your hands dirty. Anyway, Mrs. Hand and I were thinking about checking out that new church over on East Side. We hear they do a lot of clapping and hand-raising, which is closer to what we need right now.” “Hmmm,” Nose replied. “I see what you mean. We’d hate to see you go. But I guess you have to do what’s good for you.” At that moment, Mrs. Hand, who had been caught up in another conversation, turned back to join her husband and Nose. Hand briefly explained what he and Nose had been talking about, after which Nose repeated his sadness at the prospect of losing the Hands. But he again said that he understood since it sounded like their needs weren’t being met. Mrs. Hand nodded in agreement. She wanted to be polite, but, truth be told, she wasn’t sad to be leaving. Her husband had made just enough critical remarks about the church over the years that her heart had begun to reflect his. No, he had never burst into an open tirade against the body. In fact, he usually apologized for ‘being so negative,” as he put it. But the little complaints that he let slip out here and there had had an effect. The small groups were a little cliquish. The music was a little out of date. The programs did seem a little silly. The teaching wasn’t entirely to their liking. In the end, it was hard for the two of them to put their fingers on it, but they finally decided that the church wasn’t for them. In addition to all that, Mrs. Hand knew that their daughter Pinkie was not comfortable with the youth group. Everyone was so different from her, she felt out of joint. Mrs. Hand then said something about how much she appreciated Nose and the leadership. But the conversation had already run on too long for Nose. Besides, her perfume made him want to sneeze. He thanked Mrs. Hand for her encouragement, repeated that he was sorry to hear of their departure, then turned and walked away. Who needed the Hands? Apparently, they didn’t need him.

The above parable by Jonathan Leeman is the preface to the small, nourishing book by Mark Dever titled What Is a Healthy Church? (Crossway, 2005)

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