Have you ever walked along a beach covered with seashells? An array of shapes, sizes, colors and textures, all once the dwellings of little sea creatures. Some are cracked or broken, while others have remained intact despite the crashing and smashing of waves along their journey from ocean to shore.
Most of us either just admire them or, if we want souvenirs of our days at the beach, collect a handful. We keep the most eye-appealing and toss the ones that seem less distinctive. But a friend of mine, Erika, after she and her family spent time on the beaches near Charleston, S.C., gained a new perspective from seashells, courtesy of her five-year-old son, Cole.
|Ballard family seashells|
(Erika Ballard photo)
Upon returning home, Erika was sorting through the shells they’d gathered, deciding which to keep. After asking what his mother was doing, Cole responded, “Well, Mom, we have to keep every one because they are all beautiful and different, each and every one. We have to keep all of them!”
When her son said that, Erika realized she’d been given an epiphany from the sea. “I realized this is how Christ views each of us – beautiful and perfect, no matter our flaws, and I’m so unbelievably thankful that He does!”
We live in a world where we demonstrate partiality to the “pretty people,” along with the rich and ultra-successful. The entertainment world and broadcast media, despite feigning belief in diversity and decrying any form of discrimination, are populated with men, women and children that look good on camera. Overweight people and plain-looking folks are presented, but usually as curiosities. Certainly not as TV news anchors.
But that’s where the biblical distinctive diverges dramatically from societal norms. Comparing the family of believers to the human body, the Bible states, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor…. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it…” (1 Corinthians 12:21-24).
Recently I was talking with a guy that’s apparently an accomplished handyman. He’s always fixing things, like cars, lawnmowers, chain saws, apparently anything that’s broken. When he asked what I do, I told him I’m a writer and editor. “Oh, I could never write anything,” he said. “Well,” I responded, “I can’t fix things. In fact, the mere thought of a leaky toilet terrifies me.” Our skills differ, but are equally needed.
Like seashells, we’re all special in our own unique way, at least in the eyes of God. As the apostle Peter stated, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism (is not a respecter of persons) but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).
Colleges and non-profits show great deference to well-heeled donors. Sororities and fraternities choose members with “the right look” or the proper pedigree. Sales organizations seek out staff people that look and act a certain way, snubbing others having similar goals and ambitions, but lacking the specific criteria to qualify for “our team.”