Thursday, April 10, 2014

Painted Bricks

     Several years ago, while driving to work, I stopped at a red light by the seminary in Wake Forest. While waiting for the light to change I noticed a man on his hands and knees, with a three foot foam rubber template, painting the sidewalks. It took me a few seconds to figure out what he was doing. Wake Forest is like a lot of small southern towns. It has a unique and interesting historical district full of quaint shops and restaurants. Part of its charm is that the town has made it a point to keep the historic feel. To that end, the “powers that be” decided that gray concrete sidewalks did not look very historic and that brick sidewalks were more appropriate to the era. A few of the older brick sidewalks had survived, but most of the town’s sidewalks were concrete. The solution – paint the concrete sidewalks to look like brick. It cost much less than tearing up all of the concrete sidewalks and it
would create the “feel” they were after.

     From the window of a passing car, these painted brick sidewalks did look like the real thing. They did add to the historic feel of the town and they certainly cost much less than real brick. The problem was when you parked your car and actually walked on them. No one would be fooled into thinking that these were genuine brick sidewalks. They were not the real thing. These painted sidewalks lacked depth. Because the paint could only cover the surface it was thin and didn’t hold up well to wear. The difference was really noticeable in those areas where the painted brick sidewalks connected to a genuine brick one. While the real bricks showed their age and were not as uniform as the faux bricks, they had character, they had depth. They had the type of wear that comes from decades of use. Even in those areas where the bricks had been worn down, what was underneath was still brick.

     As I considered these sidewalks, I could not help but think, this is a picture of the church. Jesus charged us with the responsibility of making disciples, but somewhere along the way we realized that it was much easier and less costly to just “paint bricks.” We have created a generation whose faith is nothing more than a thin coat of paint. When passing by or with just a quick glance they look like the real thing, but when you really stop to look at them the difference is clear. With a little wear the paint comes right off and they go back to being just concrete. When positioned along side other sections of painted brick they seem normal, but when they come in contact with genuine bricks the difference is clear.

     Making disciples, like laying a genuine brick sidewalk takes time, commitment and investment. It requires that the old sidewalk be torn out and new material be laid down. Making disciples means a fundamental change in the material being used. It means a change at the very core of the person, in their heart. It is however, an endeavor that is worth the effort. It’s what Christ commanded us to do. We must remember, the Father desires worshipers who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. He’s not looking for imitation disciples, He desires the real thing. We must also remember that faux faith is not genuine faith; it’s not saving faith. This world will never be changed by imitation Christianity, it will never be transformed by a faith that is only skin deep. It will be changed as people are changed – one brick at a time.

In His Service,