Comparison. It's a buzz word right now.
It's certainly been a buzz word in my own brain at times. Just scroll through social media and you'll be unable to avoid it. The perfect pictures, staged scenes, and filtered selfies. It can often leave us feeling less than...or not enough. Our houses, our smiles, and our photos aren't white enough, bright enough, clean enough. Our 'following' is never big enough and our influence never feels significant enough. We compare, it's a natural tendency, but when we take it one step further it robs us of our joy and easily leaves jealousy or pride in it's place.
You see, I'm learning that comparison cripples our love.
Because we were never made to be compared to each other.
We were made to compliment each other.
Like ice cream and apple pie, peanut butter and jelly, coffee and donuts (but let's move on from the food analogies...)
Like a garden in spring, each flower lending it's own delicate design, it's own hue, it's own subtle fragrance to draw the weary in to rest, to find delight, to recognize The Creator's handiwork.
Like the Body of Christ, the one he calls His Church, moving with grace and form and pulsating with a spirit of life and love-- each member of the body no more important than the least important of all.
I love the way The Message version of God's Word phrases it!
"You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink..
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
So, what part are you? Good digestion or full bodied hair?! Ha, gotta love The Message! But here's the best part...
We Need Each Other.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything." 1 Corinthians 12:12-24 The Message
The truth is, I need you.
I need you as part of this body of Jesus that becomes our own when we accept Him. And I need you to be good at what you do, at who you are. I need you healthy and whole and bright and beautiful and able to carry weighted hearts and sing songs of healing, and reach out with eager hands to help those that are helpless. I need you to see in the dark and to run rescue operations, to hear from God and then speak His Words fearlessly.
Because this mission is bigger than us.
Because the world is hurting and hungry and confused and needs the body of Jesus to be more like Jesus and less like "Christians". Because a body doesn't work if it's members are divided. It doesn't work if it's parts are in contempt of each other, or jealous, or proud, or judgmental, or trying to be important on their own, or wondering if they have any importance at all.
So, I'm committed to caring for you.
Just as my own body. I can't compare what we do, or even "who" we are, because we are one body in Christ, with many parts. But I can and I will compliment what you do. I'll help you take that tough first step, and I'll cheer you on when you find your voice, and I'll do my part and run in step with you.
And that's what the Church is really all about.
It's not a building, or a program, or even just one person, but it's the flesh and blood body of believers in Christ Jesus working with one common goal.
Is it any surprise then that the very next chapter in Corinthians is the Love Chapter?