I would like us to take a moment to celebrate windows. These versatile building products possess all the attributes of greatness and genius. They are simple – glass and a frame. But they can also be intricate – tiny coloured pieces of glass and artistically shaped lead. They can be small. They can be massive. They can be found in a palace and in a hut. They let things in and keep things out. Their view can cheer a soul or strike terror in a soldier. They can be functional or they can also be stunningly beautiful. Windows done well are perfectly humble. And for all these reasons I think we not only need to take a moment to celebrate windows, but to also learn from them.
¶ “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.
Matthew 6:22 THE MESSAGE
Even though windows can be dressed up with drapes, curtains, blinds or shutters, they are not there to draw attention to themselves. They serve to reveal. They make it possible to see without battling the elements of wind, rain, or glare. Windows can help let light in and thus brighten up a room. Windows facing toward the sun invite its warmth in. They reveal, they brighten, they warm, and they do it all gladly.
From the outside of a home, windows tell a passerby what kind of home this is. The passerby may see a family sitting around a dinner table enjoying a meal, each other, and their guests’ company. The passerby may look in and notice the décor and see that the occupant has an eye for colour. They may also attempt to look in and fail and thus conclude that the occupant values their privacy.
The Church is meant to be like a window. Windows have longed formed an integral and symbolic component of church building architecture. Our new church building, due for completion some time in June, will have some bold windows facing out to our community. This too is intentionally symbolic.
In our Western Culture, we are living in a privacy-obsessed world. Life hasn’t always been this privatised. For most of human history for most human cultures, there has been a strong sense of community, togetherness, mutuality, and a higher degree of appropriate transparency. Because of this strong cultural undertow, it is often challenging for people who are now coming to Christ and being introduced to the church family to appreciate that God wants to do something in us not just in me. In fact, the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians (a church made up of Jews and Gentiles) that by God bringing them together into one church family, that He was showing the world that His Son is more important to His children than their ethnicity, language, skin-colour, or heritage.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
In other words, the local church is meant to be a window. As a window, the community where God has called the church to assemble can look in. When people look through the church as a window they will see the unsearchable riches of Christ deposited in people just like them! When they look at the church in their community they will see the thing they crave more than anything else (unconditional love, forgiveness, wholesome friendships, helpful instruction, grace to go on) evident in the lives of people just like them!
From inside the church looking out, the church as a window helps the believer to see the world more clearly. What was previously obscured by the elements of life, and now filtered out by the Christ-supplied window, enables the believer to see people as we’ve never seen them before. It enables to see the demands for what is abhorrent as a deep ache in the souls of those who seeking what they have not found.
Each Sunday, we webcast our service Live on the internet. It’s like watching our service on TV, only better, because you can watch it anywhere in the world on a smart-phone, tablet computer, smart-TV, or computer. This is an expression of our desire to be a window through which the world may look in. This is why it is important for all believers to gather together each Sunday and declare to the world that celebrating Christ in His House is more important to us than sport, business, or me-time. And when our service together is dismissed and the weekly webcast stops, our windows are still open for the world to look in – but not through one larger than normal window, but through the individual windows we each serve as for Christ when we go our way into our worlds.
So three cheers for the window and three cheers for Christ who has gifted us to be His window for a lost world to gaze through and behold His grace in people just like them. In this way, we are a window of hope to a person who feels there is none.