My friend Beth mentioned to me recently that The Flaming Lips had released a new track on Valentine’s Day. This isn’t particularly interesting news or anything, however, what is interesting is the way in which they did it. The song, called “Two Blobs F**king”, was released in the form of “12 individual tracks that ultimately create one complete song.” You can read more about it here. The idea behind this is that you must find 11 other people with phones or computers and only then, together, can you hear the song in all it’s wonder.This got me thinking about the sort of community the church is.
One of the primary analogies used to describe the church in scripture is a body. Now, the body is made up of many parts. If you were to disassemble a human body (is this too morbid?!) and lay out each individual part on a large table you would not have a body. Rather, you would have a collection of items that together would form a body but apart are simply a rather unpleasant sight to behold. Each part of the body has a particular telos, a goal or an end, towards which it works.
Back to The Lips for a moment. The statement on their website read that these were “12 individual tracks”. Are they though? From the 17th C. onwards the term “individual(ism)” took on connotations of separateness. So, these 12 tracks, are they individual? I would argue no for the simple fact that they were created and recorded to be played together. The Lips did not intend for these tracks to be played by themselves. For me to sit alone in my house some evening and play 1 of the 12 tracks on my own private phone would be to miss the point. Heck, for me to sit at home and play all 12 tracks consecutively would be to miss the point. Heck, for me to sit at home with 1 computer and 11 phones and play all 12 tracks together, even if I could achieve perfect unison, would still be to miss the point. The point is to get a bunch of people together and each take a particular track. Only then, playing together in unison, are we able to capture what The Lips had in mind.
This is why being a part of a local church body is never an option for a Christian. To be a Christian and to refuse to commit to a local community of faith is to sit at home in your basement playing 1 of 12 tracks to the song. It just doesn’t sound good. In order for the full richness of the song to be enjoyed you must join with others. A few concluding remarks:
Every person is unique and has particular gifts. What is your gift? If you know what it is, how are you using that to join in on the incredible melody that is the church? If you do not know what it is, find out what it is and do it well, not for yourself but for others.
Unique does not equal individual. You are unique, you are a particular person, but you are not an individual. You were never meant to follow Christ Jesus on your own. Why? Well, because you’re just not equipped to go at it alone. And the beauty that results from journeying with and building up others far exceeds any brave and heroic attempt to fly solo. Admit that you’re weak. Admit that you need. You need others, and others need you. Are you part of a church? Please note, I don’t mean are you part of th Church, capital “C”. I mean are you part of a *local community of faith? Have you committed to wading through the messiness that is life together, on a regular basis, with a group of other folks that you live near and can see throughout the week? If not, know that this is how you’re meant to live. Find somewhere local where you can worship and submit to the preaching of the word and where you can be a part of developing fruitful community.
Who knew that The Flaming Lips could teach us so much about what it means to be the church in a particular location? There is a magnificent piece of music that has been written, and continues to be written each day. Are you in-tune with those who are trying to play along with you? Are you in-tune with the composition itself?
ps – I’ll save you the 10 seconds on Google, here’s a link to The Lips’ youtube site where you can find the 12 tracks.