They come in many shapes, sizes, colors, types, functions, and so on and so on.
Saying this, I need to ask if you have been to an aquarium?
Have you owned or seen a fish bowl filled with a beautiful diversity of fish?
It is a fascinating sight that if you are not careful may absorb an unprecedented amount of time. This sight-seeing becomes addictive.
Before long, you may start to pick your favorite fishes or give them names based on their traits and personalities.
Standing from the outside of the tank looking in, what within the glass box is able to mesmerize you?
Flip the question. Why do the fish ignore you as you gawk endlessly at them?
The fish tank may be filled with a large number of fish, but notice it is the brilliant attributes of a particular fish that may catch your eye. Even in the midst of the normal, large pool of drab fish in which they live, the fish is different.
It carries a different color. The fish moves differently from the pack. There may be a scent of humility as they wait for the other fish to get their fill of food before they eat.
Note whatever it is that catches your eye.
Now think of Christian life. Think of your sanctification. Living in the world, Christians and non-Christians alike are being viewed. They are being watched per say from outside the tank.
God is omniscient (Psalm 147:5). He sees us here on Earth pooled together.
Every illustration has its limitations, but let the point be this- God sees all in the fish bowl. Take the illustration further, in the pool of fish, we, the Church, live among all in the habitat. But, we are different.
The Greek word for church, ecclesia, literally means “the called out ones.” And that literally means that we are a brilliant creation when we identify ourselves with Christ.
So what makes us different? The list is enormous! But let’s look at this critically for a moment. What makes the Church of Christ different from any other secular charity project that gives out food and meets social needs?
I can affirm this. The Church sets itself apart in the fishbowl as new creations by standing as the Pillar and Ground of the Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We have the Truth, and we know the Truth and therefore as the Body of Christ, we hold the Head and the Truth, Jesus Christ up.
That is the difference. Works are essentially meaningless with Christ and humanity’s self-created “righteousness” is the equivalent of filthy rags without the Truth to purify and cover in true righteousness (Isaiah 64:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Truth, Jesus Christ, makes us swim differently, be different, and be seen in this drab fish bowl.
Simply being seen is important. Because when seen, the striking feature we carry, Jesus Christ’s finished Gospel, points to the Creator who is worthy to be glorified (1 Corinthians 6:20).