The object of the game of Cootie is to be the first player to build a “cootie,” Hasbro’s cartoonish version of the mythical bug.
Preparation for the game consists of separating the body parts. The torsos go here. The legs go there. The antennae go over there. And so on with the rest of the parts.
Players then take turns rolling a die and selecting a body-part corresponding to the number rolled. The first to have composed an entire body wins.
Some time ago, I was playing Cootie with my kids and was struck by a similarity between the church and the game.
In Cootie, you begin with piles of like parts. But having neatly arranged individual piles of identical parts is not the goal. The goal of Cootie is a complete body, consisting of a head, a torso, six legs, antennae, eyes and a tongue. When all these individual and distinct parts are connected, you have a complete body. And only then do you win.
Like the end-product of the game, God has ordained that the church be one body consisting of multiple, diverse but joined-together parts:
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
Yet, how often do we find that our local churches look like nothing more than the preparatory stage of Cootie? We sort people into individual piles of identical parts. The old folk over here. The young folk over there. The theologians here. The evangelists there. And there are the piles of the musicians, the prayer-warriors, the traditionalists, the contemporaries, the home-schoolers and the public-schoolers. Having sorted them like Cootie-parts, we think we have won.
But sorted piles do not constitute winning in the church. (This is especially true when the various piles sometimes treat each other like they have…well, cooties!)
The church only grows properly when its diverse parts are rightly joined together and connected to the head, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Let’s strive in our local churches to show the wisdom of God in the Gospel by being willing to serve with our distinct gifts and be served by others, as we unite together around the Gospel of our once crucified but now risen Lord!