Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AGREE TO DISAGREE (05/04/17)
TITLE: Uncle Jelly Spends a Dollar
By Gerald Shuler
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That is why we were shocked when he actually got irritated with one of our Suday School class discussions. We were exploring some of the problems the early church faced. Someone questioned whether the church ever solved those problems.
“They agreed to disagree.” Uncle Jelly frowned as he made that simple statement.
“So some of them were right and some of them were wrong?” This was asked by Billy, the more vocal one in our class.
Uncle Jelly's frown grew frownier.
“Right and wrong. What would happen if we spent all our time judging who is right or wrong?”
“At least we could learn to be right. Right?” Billy was pressing and we all knew Uncle Jelly was about to get deeper in his teaching. He had a frustrated edge to his voice as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a dollar bill.”
“Is the church a block from ours the ones who are right, or are we?” He held the dollar bill up with both hands so we could all see it. “Are they the dollar, or are we?”
We all went into “Huh?” mode.
“Let's imagine we are in a store to spend a dollar. Can I have four volunteers?” He picked four kids, one being Billy, and lined them up. “Now, imagine we are walking into the store. Let me give you your dollar.”
He reached in his pocket and pulled out four quarters, handing one quarter to each child.
“I gave each of you a quarter so none of you would be left out.” The entire class, saw the fairness in this.
“The store sells Banana Splits for just a dollar. Now, go buy a Banana Split.”
“But,” Billy spoke for all. “We only have a quarter.”
“No, four quarters equals one dollar. Go buy your Banana Split.”
“It can't be done unless they give their quarters to me.” Billy was sure he had the problem figured out.
“Or you give your quarter to someone else.” Uncle Jelly was firm, much more than usual. “But who can be trusted with your quarter? After all, it IS yours.”
“Then, I was right,” Billy smiled. “It can't be done.”
“That is where the church is today. Thank you, kids. Please, sit down.”
Uncle Jelly held up the dollar bill again.
“The church a block from us doesn't believe exactly like we do. What do you know about that church?”
One of the kids replied “Dad says they don't believe in women wearing pants so we won't ever go there.”
Another added “And they don't have any music when they sing. That's not natural.”
“So, they are wrong?” Uncle Jelly still held the dollar bill. “Is there anything they believe that we also believe?”
“I don't know. I've only heard how different they are.”
“Exactly!” Uncle Jelly tossed the dollar bill as hard as he could. “Forget the dollar bill.” He pulled another quarter from his pocket. “Let's stay satisfied with just the quarter.”
The class still had their confused glaze.
“Think. This quarter is a part, a denomination, of the entire dollar, just like this church... and the one down the block... is just a part of the entire body of Christ. The early church agreed to disagree. The modern church seems to have specialized in telling the world about our disagreements. No wonder the world sees Christians as not being sure what they believe.”
“Why can't we say the church down the street teaches about Jesus, and we do, too?” Uncle Jelly's voice mellowed. “Or that God loves us enough to sacrifice his Son for our sins?” He reached down and picked up the tossed dollar bill. “Why can't we treat each other like a part of the body? That's what they are. In our imaginary spending example, if you had worked together you could have all enjoyed part of the Banana Split. Just ask for four spoons.”
Uncle Jelly paused briefly to let this lesson sink in. Then he said “Class, as Christians we are part of the most powerful family ever to exist... God's family. Let's start treating others like the family members they are. We can agree to disagree but let's make sure the world hears about what we agree on... Jesus is the whole dollar.”
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