I found this video from “How to Make Everything” a while back on The Atlantic. In it, Andy George attempts to make a sandwich completely from scratch. He grows his own vegetables, makes his own salt from ocean water, milks a cow to make cheese, grinds his own flour from wheat, collects his own honey, and slaughters his own chicken. It takes him 6 months and costs him $1,500.
The closing scene says it all. Andy George takes one bite of his sandwich, says with a grimace, “It’s not bad,” then drops his head into his hands and laughs (or is he crying?) at the absurdity of his experiment. In a follow up video one person tastes the sandwich and says, “It tastes like a cork board dipped in lemon juice.” One kid takes a bite and immediately spits it out.
The lesson from the experiment is simple. It takes a village to make a sandwich. We need each other. In truth, Andy George took several short cuts. If he really wanted to make his sandwich from scratch he would have to build his own home with his own furniture so he would have a place to cook and enjoy his meal. He would have to create his own source of heat/energy. He would have to make his own cookware and utensils (after mining his own minerals to melt into metal). We need farmers, butchers, bakers, chefs, utility workers, lumberjacks, miners, craftsmen, carpenters, electricians, and more just to make a simple sandwich. Aren’t you glad you don’t need to eat a $1,500 sandwich?
It takes a village to create a thankful heart as well. The apostle Paul understood this well. This is why he spent so much time at the beginning of his letters giving thanks for the churches he was addressing.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. (Romans 1:8)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge (Corinthians 1:4-5)
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:15-16)
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5)
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints (Colossians 1:3-4)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
Where would we be without the church? Without the church we would be forced to figure out our faith on our own. We would have to go through life’s struggles alone. We would have no one to challenge us when we were being stubborn. We would have no one to teach us when we were in error. We would have no one to encourage us when we were feeling overwhelmed. Our faith would be all about ourselves, instead of this vibrant living thing connected to the faith, well-being, and spiritual (im)maturity of others. We would never learn how to forgive, how to love, how to be selfless, how to be patient, how to be courageous, how to be gentle, or how to be humble without the church.
The church, warts and all, gives us far more blessings than we could possibly enjoy by ourselves. Without her our faith would taste like a cork board dipped in lemon juice. Take time this Thanksgiving to give thanks for your church. Give thanks for what God is doing in other people’s lives. Give thanks for the ways people serve you every Sunday. Give thanks for the opportunities you have every Sunday to serve them back. Give thanks for the people you sit next to week after week as you seek God’s presence, His blessing, His mercy, and His power.
New Life Fremont, I thank God for you every day! You remind me that I am a sinner in need of grace, forgive me when I fail you, inspire me by your love for Christ, encourage me by your acts of service, and push me to seek more and more of God’s presence, blessing, mercy, and power in my life, our church, and in our city.