During the past weeks, I have chronicled the details of my first—and by the grace of God, LAST—visit to IKEA. The Swedish home good stores left an indelible mark upon my psyche.
However, preachers notoriously use all of life’s experience as fodder for sermons. So I have written a series of blogs comparing and contrasting IKEA and the Large Church.
IKEA’s first floor contains acres of warehouse space called the Self-Serve Furniture Area. Swedish elves magically pack furniture into “flat-pack” boxes. In-house chiropractors treat foolish consumers who attempt to lift any container alone.
Signs proclaim the Scandinavian furniture is Ready to Assemble. This prevarication falls under the heading of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. The assembly of IKEA furniture has reduced Georgia Tech engineers and MIT post-grads to frustrated tears.
First, there are no words to describe IKEA’s instructions. Literally—there are no words. Instead, the company uses pictograms to depict the step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step directions. For parents who have screamed profanities while assembling LEGO toys with their children, it’s like that—only worse.
IKEA gnomes have developed proprietary hardware for furniture reconstruction. Doodads, thingamabobs, gizmos, and doohickeys join infinite pieces in incomprehensible ways. The end result either resembles the picture on the box or an ACE Hardware Store that threw up on the floor.
The Large Church also comes from God Read to Assemble. With Christ Jesus as the cornerstone, the Spirit builds us block by block and life by life into a holy temple.
At times, the assembly process can be messy and frustrating. Some parts must be deconstructed and then reconstructed. Over time, however, the Lord works in, through, and despite us to create something greater than ourselves.
The Church is both gift and goal. We ARE the body of Christ . . . and we are BECOMING the body of Christ.
Perhaps the church sign out front should read: Assembly Required.
Good message Bill. I did a trip to IKEA a while back. It took me a few days to put two TV stands together. I’m still taking Advil PM to be able to sleep .😬
We are given this tightly packaged gift called “life.” Even though we have the materials and special tools to aid our construction, we still need the instructions (no matter how obscure they seem at first), and we need to embrace the process. I think IKEA just helped you to experience the confusion, pain, and frustration that can accompany the package. Hopefully, we all end up in Paradise!
I have loved reading about your Ikea adventures and how you liken them to the church. Another comparison to consider would be the stark, repetitive, white-noise-feeling that Ikea has and how that may relate to some churches. In Ikea, everything feels so cold and rigid. The whole store looks so similar and just blends together as a big wash. In contrast, God in his infinite creativity has carefully crafted every part of his glorious creation with a unique purpose and individuality, as each part works together in harmony. God likes variety, which is something that Ikea and maybe individual churches can struggle with. Within the massive furniture warehouse, everything is so mechanically mass-produced to look the same, that individual identity and variety are lost. This is something that we as individuals can relate to as well. It is so easy to just try to be like everyone else and blend into the crowd. But instead, let’s take a stand and challenge ourselves to be who God specifically created us to be. So, instead of trying to all fit into a cookie-cutter world, let’s stand out of the crowd and shine His light through us, as we were created to do. Embrace God’s word as He speaks to us.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10