the weblog of Alan Knox

A spinning cog in the Rube Goldberg machinery

Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 in discipleship, edification | 2 comments

A spinning cog in the Rube Goldberg machinery

You’ve heard of a “Rube Goldberg Machine,” right? You know, one of those contraptions with complex wheels and slides and pulleys and levels and the occasional animal which is designed to carry out a simple function. (A good example is the 1960’s board game “Mouse Trap.”)

In a Rube Goldberg machine, each piece may be turning or sliding or rolling or falling and expending tremendous amounts of energy to do that work. But, in the big scheme of theme, the piece may be doing very little to accomplish the purpose of the machine.

It is possible (and perhaps probably in some cases) that our lives can be caught up being a spinning cog in a Rube Goldberg Machine, even as Christian among the church. It’s possible (and sometimes probable) that we are expending alot of energy doing alot of stuff but actually getting very little accomplished.

In fact, sometimes Christians are taught and encouraged that their purpose is in being that spinning cog.

By the way, don’t think that I’m only talking about large, institutional, or traditional churches. I’m not. The same thing can happen small, simple, or organic churches.

Anytime we forget our purpose as a follower of Jesus Christ and as a brother and sister to those around us, we can get caught up in activities and programs while actually doing little or nothing toward our purpose. Busy… working hard… even successfully… but at what?

Sometimes, the best thing we can do for the church (although not necessarily for the machine) is to stop spinning. Stop being a cog and start living out your purpose in Christ.

What is that purpose? Well, you may need to stop being a cog and start listening to God to figure that one out. But, I know that it would include abiding in Christ and discipling others. What that looks like and how that will happen, I can’t tell you. And, in fact, while others may help you hear what God is directing you to do, no one else can actually tell you what God is calling you to do either.

So, what is going to be? Continue being a spinning cog? Or stop spinning and start living in and demonstrating Christ’s love.

(By the way, after writing this, I saw this post called “Hooray for Shaun King!” Also, check the links at the bottom of that post. In one of them, Shaun makes the following statement:

What I am saying is that church attendance, Sunday morning services, sermon-listening (or even sermon preaching), song-singing, hand-clapping, amen-saying and all of the things that “Christ-ians” have lifted up so high look so little like Christ himself that I am utterly convinced that we are completely off base with what discipleship means.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not – and I do – it is clear that Shaun is tired of being a cog in a Rube Goldberg Machine – even tired of being the head cog.)


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 9-21-2011

    Very good stuff. We get so busy living out what our culture tells us it means to be a Christian that we seem to forget what we are actually called to be.

  2. 9-21-2011


    Yes. I realize that I mentioned “organic church,” but didn’t explain. I wanted to point out that even those who are part of more organic churches can get caught up in eating together, participating in teaching one another and encouraging one another, and building relationships that we forget our focus on Jesus Christ and helping one another follow him.