There are *Coke* people, and there are *Pepsi* people.
(Then there is a sub-group of people who couldn’t care less what type of cola they enjoy.)
But for the self-identifiers (and you know who you are) there is a very distinct and unequivocal difference between the two! Pepsi people deem Coke to be far too sweet and Coke people complain that Pepsi just doesn’t have the satisfying taste they’re used to. But….they’re both colas….., right?
Now, I understand I’m about to paint with very broad strokes here, but in my unscientific appraisal, it seems like most east coasters and mid-westerners tend to be Coke people. Then we pioneering westerners tend to prefer Pepsi. Furthermore, if you relocated after childhood, you still tend to prefer the cola of your youth. I’m quite sure there is extensive research available….somewhere….., but for the sake of this blog, it might be easier if you just go along with my supposition. =)
Thinking about two soft drinks that are so similar, yet for some people are worlds apart kind of makes me think of……church.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the “church” and all parts of her, but you have to agree that often the way we work together doesn’t really resemble the cohesive, spirit-led, unique and creative body that we would like it to. Instead, sometimes it seems like there are Coke churches and Pepsi churches and Dr. Pepper churches and Root Beer churches and Sprite churches……well, you get the idea. But in the end, aren’t we all the same basic “cola?”
I know this is a rediculously simplistic metaphor, and church history reveals complex reasons why we have separated ourselves into so many different “flavors”, and even geography seems to have great influence in the church preferences of folks, but if we look at it from, say the eyes of an unchurched, or even ex-churched person, trying to make sense of it all, you can imagine how confusing, and well….competitive it can seem.
I enjoy a variety of soft drinks, and likewise a variety of worship expressions and traditions. I’m refreshed by sincere worship, even if it’s in a style that wouldn’t be my “favorite.” And I try really hard to not judge the preferences of others – in fact, can I let you in on a secret? I think we can all get along. And not just in a slap you on the shoulder, “God bless you” kind of way, but I mean, really and truly work together to meet the needs of our communities and bind the wounds of the brokenhearted, regardless of who they are, or more importantly, who WE are. And I really do see a shift on the horizon! Even now, there are churches in my community who have seldom shared worship or outreach events that are creating new and innovative ways to celebrate our commonalities and leave the differences outside. It’s exciting, it’s compelling and it’s….refreshing!
OK….since this is, after all, my Lenten blog, I can’t just get away with thinking about what the “church” should be doing to move toward wholeness….I need to make it part of my personal journey as well. And I can’t say at present what that will look like, but I will at least commit to be more aware of those I encounter who don’t affiliate with any church group, and maybe even strike up a conversation about colas. I have a feeling that, instead of talking about the differences between “Coke” people and “Pepsi” people….I may learn that what most people are looking for is just………. a drink of water.
“Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:13-14