Strong Enough to Bend
By: Samuel Clark

treeDid you ever really stop to think about how important flexibility is? You have probably heard that song about the tree that didn't break because it was strong enough to bend when the storms came. However I'm not talking about trees, but people.

Flexibility is a marker of good health. Diseases like arthritis keep us stiff and unable to bend - as do injuries. Obesity can keep us from even seeing our toes, much less touching them. Then there is the problem of becoming muscle-bound; this problem only happens when someone focuses on developing great strength in one isolated area to the exclusion of others. That one set of muscles may look great, but it is unhealthy. And sometimes we lose our flexibility because we simply fail to use it; we become set in our ways so that the least thing out of routine makes us whine and complain if not break. We often use the phrase "old and decrepit" to describe this condition, though age doesn't really have that much to do with it, but attitude and practice.

Sometimes I think it would be good if we didn't even have seats in the auditorium. Sitting on the floor increases flexibility, is cost-effective, and leaves space for a variety of postures and configurations during our assemblies. Would we kneel more if we didn't have pews? Would we be more physically involved if we weren't "programmed" to sit like bumps on a refined and cushioned log? Do you see what I'm getting at? It's not at all that I want us to get rid of this convenience, but that we should think carefully about how it affects our behavior - our flexibility.

The same goes for order of worship. I know we joke about people getting bent out of shape if we deviate the least from two songs, a prayer, etc., but if we are flexible, can we really get bent out of shape? We must beware choosing to do something exactly the same way for so long that it becomes a sacred cow - a tradition with the force of law, an expediency with the force of command. A little variety in format - not content - can go a long way to maintaining our spiritual flexibility and health. Why don't we do a lot of things that we could biblically? Usually because it isn't practical for our facilities or because it would ruffle somebody's feathers who is used to doing it only one way with little or no variation.

Just like any other talent, when it comes to flexibility, it's use it or lose it. Unless we make a conscious decision to exercise the freedom we have in Christ - not to "push the envelope," but to utilize a variety of culturally appropriate formats, programs, and methods - we will be trapped in an ever-shrinking box of our own devising and die a slow death due to spiritual malnutrition.

Have you touched your spiritual toes lately?

For the sake of the cause,
Samuel Clark, Youth Minister
Lafayette Church of Christ
Lafayette, TN&