Luke 17:33 “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (NIV 2011)
Imagine me holding before you two eggs. To your eye, they look perfectly identical. But they are not the same. Not at all! Their shells look alike, but the eggs are entirely different — with two entirely opposite destinies. This distinction resembles two perspectives of Christianity. Let me explain:
Eggs are designed to produce life. Yet one of the eggs in my hand is infertile — as good as dead. It will never produce life. Its contents will eventually shrivel and dry, and create merely a rattle when the shell is shaken. Yet, this shell, itself, might delight many generations. It might be painted beautifully — and even be displayed in a museum. But it is dead.
On my recent Scotland trip, I saw many beautiful shells: old church structures — some crumbling, some still in use. But my eye could see only the shells, not the evidence of life once formed within or perhaps still bearing fruit. I saw ruin after ruin, one old church after another. This left me longing to experience real life in Scotland. I craved to meet some vibrant, living Scots who radiate the presence of Christ. Thankfully, my desire was fulfilled. It was a joy to encounter evidence of the living church — to meet and fellowship with people who are alive with God’s Spirit. No tour company would put such an event on their itineraries. But God did! It was an answer to my prayer.
I’ve just described the two overall ways of seeing Christianity: one that sees only the presence of shells, and the other that recognizes the presence of real life. It’s a life-or-death difference in point of view — even though it all comes under the same umbrella labelled as “Christianity”!
John 14:6a – Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (KJV)
He alone makes the egg fertile, so to speak. And like a mother hen, Jesus jealously protects and nurtures that life. But what about the shell?
Consider the outcome of the shell of a fertile egg that’s nurtured. In a few weeks, the shell cracks open, soon to crumble and disintegrate, never to be remembered. It dies. Yet the inner contents, the precious life within, grows, develops, and in turn, produces more life. With each new life, a shell dies. It is through a continual cycle of life and death that life goes on. That describes the living church. This is the less visible, less noticed side of Christianity. It’s not the shell. It’s the life.
I share these thoughts to encourage you. You may be troubled over the decline of the modern church. Or perhaps you are dismayed over your own declining strength. (Our bodies are shells too.)
It’s tempting to focus on mere shells: our activities, traditions, buildings, and even our very own bodies — as precious as they are. Like egg shells, at the proper time, these shells need to break open and be destroyed so that the new life can burst forth and grow. We must accept the deaths of our shells so that they will not constrain us. Then we are free to live fully — and to bear fruit that matures and reproduces. Jesus said, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”
Prayer: Lord, we become overly attached to temporary shells. Help us to let go, so we can value and nurture what lasts — what is real, living, and eternal. Amen.
Kincardine, Ontario, Canada