I have an awesome group of friends. I met them about 6 years ago, online. Yes, you read that right, online. They live in different places all over North America. They’ve been one of the greatest, unexpected, gifts in my life.
We chat everyday, sometimes about our jobs and career changes or kids and proposed moves, new exercise regimes or mood swings. There are a bunch of us, so someone is always available. We might not always agree on politics or religion, but over the years we’ve learned to listen to one another and hear each other. One of my favorite things about this tribe is that we call each other to higher places, whether it’s professionally or personally. We’ve gotten to know one another pretty well, so if someone is not walking in their full potential or not feeling adequate to maybe take a new job, or risk a new relationship, we always know there is a large sounding board, a collective mirror, showing us our best selves. Often we don’t see ourselves as we truly are; we look through a smudged-by-circumstances or unchallenged falsehood mirror that gives us a broken view of ourselves. This is why we need people. We need community. We were made to be in relationship with others.
Ephesians 4:9-16 is one of my favorite scriptures on why community is important.
“He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
I’m a big fan of the “so thats” in the Bible. I think one day I may just go through and highlight all the “so thats”…those two words from Jesus that show us Kingdom clues on how to grow, mature and become more like Him. I like to paraphrase the above verse this way:
“Jesus made us all different. Some of us are entrepreneurs, paving the way for new businesses, creating jobs and investing in the community. Some are teachers, entrenching themselves in broken systems, believing that change can happen through one little person at a time. Others are missionaries, lawyers, stay at home moms or dads, secretaries, UPS drivers or baristas, loving people right where they’ve been planted. We’ve all been wired differently, with different skill sets and talents, SO THAT, we can mature and grow up and fully understand the fullness of life lived with Jesus. We each have different stories, upbringings, struggles and hard lessons learned. When we each discover just how we’ve been made and what God is calling us to, until we are honest about that, not hiding behind feelings of inadequacy, but really BEING who we were created to be, THEN, we, you and me, get to mature and and attain the fullness of the life God has for us. I, _______________ (insert your name) Kristin Potler, cannot become my best self, UNLESS you are being yourself. Then we all get to mature as the body of Christ, coming into the fullness of how we were designed. We don't have to be afraid to talk about the hard things, supporting one another even if we don’t feel so sure, because we have a family around us who will hold up a clear mirror that shows the truth of the situation. That family will speak life and goodness, not being afraid to look at things together, seeing things with honesty. Because we’re wired to fit together, being strong when another is weak and surrounding each other, tangibly investing in who we know each other to be. Because we see one another as Jesus does, not trying to become like someone else, because to do that would be to stunt the growth of the whole group.”
This revelation in my life, was a game changer. It made me see my friends and family, people in my community in a whole new way. I want them to become their best self. I want to rally around them, call them to a higher place, be their best cheerleader, so I can fully mature, becoming who God created me to be. But, not for selfish motivation, it’s more like the cycle of life. The whole gets to operate in health when each part is being true to his or her design. We are interwoven, interconnected, designed to be dependent and interdependent on one another.
How good is God?!
We’re made for our Creator, but He also made us for one another. It’s a family thing. I think if we stopped looking at our differences as hinderances, but began to look at them through the lens of Jesus, seeing the differences as a value to the family, if we begin to serve one another, discovering ways to help each brother and sister become their best self, we’d see our family healing from within. This is true on an individual level as well as a corporate level. Can we begin to look at the Lutheran church down the street and see their acts of service to the community, as a beautiful part of the body of Christ, not micro-analyzing their differences on how we’re suppose to worship? Can we begin to recognize the prayer authority our family at the AME church has because God has placed them in the war zone of the city and they’ve learned how to pray, from sheer necessity? Can we see that gift as a a much needed part of the body of Christ? Can we come around them, affirming and encouraging them to become the best prayer force in our community, recognizing their gift, learning from them and not being threatened by it?
You guys, we need each other. We need our differences, our individual talents and uniqueness. We need you to be who God created you to be, without apology. I know we’re all going to mess up or try and diminish what God has called us to do, it’s human nature. But, that’s why we have one another; that’s why we need one another.
God made us all different SO THAT, we can have unity, mature and attain the whole measure of the fullness of God.