“I want green!” “Can I have a blue one?” “My sister likes pink.” “Yelloooow!!”
“Uhh… can I have another?” The little boy pointed his pudgy finger toward the balloon fading into the clouds. “I lost mine.” He tried to suppress a sheepish grin.
I untangled another string and placed it in his hand, with an “Of course!”
Our biggest outreach of the year was coming to a close – Project Hope. People from near 50 churches were packing up five Kids’ Fairs across our community. A few thousand children and their families were returning to their homes with backpacks over their shoulders, brand new shoes on their feet, and some sporting new haircuts. They were armed with school supplies too, just in time for September. Parents were leaving with lighter back-to-school loads – which means school districts, administrators, and teachers would have less of a burden too.
We loved our city tangibly and in mass, but it was time to clean up the fun. During tear-down, I spotted balloon clusters lining the festival fence. I assumed the task; maybe because I didn’t want to push the air out of the inflatables (a whole body effort). Somebody had to do it, and I already flexed plenty of muscles that weekend. In a few minutes, I had a massive bouquet of primary colors in hand.
Not a minute later, a swarm of littles surrounded me, each requesting their favorite color.
As I passed out balloons, but I think God was doing something greater. He was giving a picture of what transpired that weekend: The Church walking in our together-eternal destiny.
Each congregation served according to their strength. Every group contributed the resources they had to offer. It’s the only way we could pull off a back-to-school community celebration of that magnitude – in five central neighborhoods – at the same time.
In a Gospel Movement, we do things together we could never do apart.
It happens in five places, but I’ll only speak for where I served: César Chávez Elementary School. This year, like every year, I didn’t see volunteers from a dozen churches coordinating to put on a good event and provide handouts for those “in need.” I saw Jesus, in His many-vibrant and colorful facets, loving our neighbors through a diverse group of friends.
THE COLORFUL GOD DISPLAYED
I saw Jesus give cups of cold water on a smoky-hot day – through the hands of volunteers from the Quaker Friends Church.
I saw Jesus reveal Himself as the life of the party in “capture the oversized flag” – facilitated by youthful volunteers from the church whose strength is creative arts.
I saw the Servant of All among us – as the Chinese Church excelled in cleanup duty and served wherever there was need. . . with joy and humility.
I saw Jesus show the full extent of His love – when my friends bent low to measure dirty, sometimes sweaty feet, to be fitted for new shoes.
I saw the Healer, the Comforter, and the Mender of cuts, bruises, bodies and the human soul – in the care of nurses at the First Aid tent.
I saw Jesus extend his “open the door of your heart and eat with us” invitation in the themed cafeteria, when families gathered around restaurant donations – thanks to the décor and service provided by a church hospitality team.
I saw Yahweh our Protector, breakdown fear and build trust – when Pastor AND Officer Kevin passed out candy, while letting kids make a jungle gym out of his patrol car.
I saw Jesus give tastes of Himself, showing His goodness – in lots of ways, but particularly through the love of an elderly congregation. They said, “We cannot staff the fair, but we will do what we can. We can make cookies.” They made 50 dozen.
I saw Jehovah-Jireh take off dirty, out-grown Project Hope shoes from last year to replace them with new ones that fit just right. He did it through the hands and donations of countless individuals and churches. Though at Project Hope, they all sported the same t-shirt, representing the One name: Jesus our Provision.
I saw the God Who Sees care for the single mom, locate her wandering autistic son, and give her special honor with an escort through the giveaway. I saw Him foresee every child’s shoe size and their favorite color – because His love is specific, down to the hidden desires of the heart.
In our united efforts, I saw Ephesians 3:10 happen:
“So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] . . .” Ephesians 3:10 AMP
Multifaceted | Other translations say manifold or rich variety, but the Greek word is polupoikilos. It means of differing colors, manifesting itself in a great variety of colors, much-variegated.
It’s His NOW intent: His colorful, many-faceted nature being made known through His people.
Growing up in Gospel Movement makes me certain of this: one single theological stream or denomination could never hope to reflect all His colors. Neither could “the best church in town.” It was never his intent. A color spectrum of this magnitude requires all the Jesus-followers in a region.
In a Gospel Movement, the many colors of God, in all His countless aspects, are made known through the Church – kind of like a balloon bouquet. When we work together, we see a more vibrant color palette and a clearer witness of Jesus.
BUT ‘WHY,’ YOU ASK . . .
But why all the colors together? Why not stick with the minimalist trend and keep the color witness to one or two? It’s cleaner, perhaps more visually appealing, and easier to understand.
To those questions, I offer a few “what-ifs:” What if the church down the road has a color of Jesus I don’t often express? And what if it’s someone’s favorite color – the very shade that will catch their eye? What if that color will draw them to the Creator of every color?
The whole balloon bouquet dazzled kids at Project Hope, but each was drawn to a particular color. It’s just like a Gospel Movement, and we cannot afford one color’s absence.
All His aspects, showcased like many colors through the Church, add to His revealed-glory in the eyes of all people. That’s what happened at Project Hope.
Growing up in a Gospel Moment, I’ve found myself jealous for the Colorful Witness, the Manifold Wisdom.
May we each express our Jesus-color, with certainty and confidence. More so, may we live in celebratory interdependence, displaying the full color spectrum together.
P.S. After little hands claimed most of the balloons, a few friends pointed up. One of the balloon clusters had slipped from my hands. It was being swallowed by the sky. A friend shamed me for polluting the environment with a playful comment. But that’s not all that happened.
The multifaceted wisdom of God was making itself known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. In all its countless, colorful aspects. Ephesians 3:10 speaks mostly of the multifaceted wisdom of God being made known to the unseen realm: angels of light and the powers of darkness.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 3:10 NIV
I’m convinced Jesus’ colorful witness came through His people to our neighbors at Project Hope. But I’d suggest His colorful wisdom was made known by us to the unseen realm too, like balloons slipping into the sky. In our unity of heart and oneness practically-displayed, might this declaration have come forth from our valley? Angels, the Church in Lane County is fulfilling their eternal destiny. Rejoice. Come to their aid. Powers of darkness, the clear witness of Jesus is shining through His people in the Northwest. Tremble. The many, vibrant aspects of Jesus cannot be hidden, and when seen as one, cannot be denied.
P.S.S. Watch this video for the full Project Hope visual! I’m not sure words alone can do it justice.