We are not McDonald’s. Not that I have anything against McDonald’s. In fact it is because of McDonald’s that I was able to get eat lobster with the eating of a McLobster. The idea of eating an ocean going bug staring back at me from my plate does not appeal to me at all. But back to the point. We are not McDonald’s. That is, we, the Christian Church, are not a franchise. Go into any McDonald’s and you will find something very familiar. The food is the same. The service is hopefully up to the same standards set by head office. Even the decor ends up being the same in most locations. Go into any McDonald’s, or any other like franchise, and you will be able to predict what you experience. Go into any Christian Church, and you can not predict what you will experience. There are differences between the denominations. But even the denominational label does not give you much to go on as there can be, and are, great differences within denominations also. Every church is unique.
Why is every church unique? Is it the failure of some head office somewhere to apply certain standards across the board? No, the Christian Church was never meant to be an experience of franchise. Instead, the Christian Church is to be the experience of family. And just as every family across the globe is unique, so too is every individual Christian family. This diversity is wonderful and to be celebrated, and even enjoyed on those occasions we come together for wider ‘family re-unions,’ such as many of us enjoy here in Cobourg on Good Fridays.
This diversity does not mean there are no standards of course. The central confession of the Church worldwide today is the same as it was in the early days of the Church. The first Christians responded to the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus with the confession “Jesus is Lord.” And when they confessed and proclaimed this, they did not mean it in some symbolic sense. Despite our diversity, this central confession that “Jesus is Lord” still binds us together.
Now some may say, “but Clarke, this goes against the diversity of the Church you have just been celebrating as there are some fine church-going folk today that are not comfortable with the affirmation that Jesus is literally raised from the dead and therefore ‘Lord’.” Indeed some church folk have written off the possibility of miracles and so have thrown the miraculously conceived baby Jesus out with the bath water. But to be a Christian church and be uncomfortable with the miraculous resurrection of Jesus would be like having a restaurant called “the Greasy Burger Pit,” that refuses to have meat on the menu. It leaves us asking that age-old question, “where’s the beef?”
The Church: A wonderfully diverse family of families. Each is unique, yet it is not “anything goes.” We are not McDonald’s, but I’m lovin’ it.