There’s a place in Comstock Park, MI, called Mad Dogz where they serve a variety of different types of hot dogs. Seriously interesting types of hot dogs. They have the Goofy Dog which is chili, peanut butter, pickles, and crushed Fritos. They have the ones with bacon and mac n’ cheese on them. I had the Lunatic which is chili, sauerkraut, ketchup, pickles, and onion. They even have a dessert hot dog….which has an actual hot dog with the dessert!
As the Lunatic hot dog was brought to me, I saw just how huge it was. And interesting too. I’ll have sauerkraut on a nice Reuben sandwich, but other than that, I’m not much of eating it. And I love chili dogs, but wasn’t sure how it’d fair with pickles and the kraut. It was messy. They served it with a fork. It was basic. They only gave me wax paper to eat it from. And it was good. I didn’t think something like that would taste good, but it did. It was different, it was made of ingredients I usually wouldn’t put together, and it was messy, but it was still good.
Not just that, but it was made by a person who truly cared for what they did. They cared about their product and that we enjoyed it. They cared about making it fresh just for me. They cared about making sure it was done right. Even though it was a mess, even though it was different, to them, it mattered. To them, I mattered.
Reflecting on this experience at Mad Dogz, I began to think about the church. The church is made up of so many different people (ingredients). It’s made up of people from all different walks of life. From all different shapes, sizes, experiences, personalities, and baggage.
The church is also messy. With all these different types of people, it’s bound to get messy. It’s bound to be interesting. You wouldn’t always think that all these flavors of people might work together, but they do. But it also can be messy in doing it. It’s the messiness of the church that really gives it the true experience of life. Just like at Mad Dogz, if it wasn’t messy, it wasn’t loaded up right. It wasn’t made right.
The church itself is a reflection of what the Kingdom of God is going to be like. The church is to reflect what things will be like when Jesus comes again and all is perfect. At the same time, the church also reflects the kingdom today, the fact that Jesus is the head of the church today, right now, and that we are all part of the church, a mishmash of different ingredients that make up the whole body of Jesus.
One of the things that I found interesting when I went to Mad Dogz was that I was told if I couldn’t find something that I wanted on the menu, or if I wanted to mix and match, I could. There was freedom while at the same time there was a menu. The church is formed by God through the Holy Spirit with Jesus as it’s head. Christ is the center of the church, yet He gives us the freedom to mix and match, try new things, while at the same time giving us the menu and ingredients needed to be the church.
All at the same time, we are being molded together, shaped and formed, by the master artist who cares for each one of us, who puts us together in such a way that though we’re different, it still works. Jesus loves the church, gave His life for the church, and leads the church today. Even in all it’s messiness, it’s still there. In fact, it’s in the messiness of church that Jesus works the best.
Now analogies can only go so far, I get that. At the same time, I wonder how much we often allow for the church to be messy. How often do we allow for ingredients to be different, a new hodge-podge of things put together that we never thought would work out but does?
The church can be an amazing messy thing if we allow it to be. Will you let the church be a Mad Dogz style church? It’ll be weird, messy, but it’ll be worth it.