Body Parts.Posted: February 1, 2014
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 2 Corinthians 12:12-14
My mom once made the comment that Jeff and I kind of look alike, which I found kind of funny. I once read somewhere that there’s a study that we often get together with people who look sort of like us physically, or share some kind of similar feature; although this is subconscious, it often happens that way. With me and Jeff, I’m not sure what it is, but at any rate, we probably look more similar with each other than we are similar personality-wise.
Sure, we’ve got things in common. Why else would we have started dating in the first place? As teenagers, we had an affinity for loud music and good books, and we thought the other was kind of cute, so that was enough. And that list of similar interests has only grown since then.
But our personalities are very different.
I”m a talker; I talk talk talk talk, even when there’s nothing really to say. Jeff: not a talker.
Jeff is careful, thoughtful, and meticulous. I’m the person responsible for most of the chipped dishes in our cabinets.
I like everything in its place, things ordered, papers tucked away, closets organized. Jeff can be zen in almost any kind of environment, even tornado-strewn chaos.
On a similar note: Jeff’s laid back, relaxed, could probably take a nap anywhere. Me: I sleep like a tightly wound spring.
And surprise surprise: sometimes Jeff and I take turns saying things like: “What the heck, you crazy person! Why on earth would you __________________?” But here’s the actual surprise: 95% of the time, this is said good-naturedly (That 5% is reserved for when Jeff cracks his toes, or when I get a little too verbally-artistic while playing video-games). In some ways, I think these differences have become endearing: I like that Jeff is thoughtful, that he is easy-going, that he listens first, speaks second. Those are qualities I wish I had more of, and I think in the twelve years we’ve been together, he’s had a good influence on me. And I’d like to think the same goes for him; sometimes when I ask him if he minds that I’m so different from him, he says that’s part of why he likes me, and why he married me.
That’s what God was getting at when we created us to live with other people. Adam wasn’t supposed to live alone in the Garden, so God made Eve, not just for sexy-time purposes, but also for companionship. God didn’t make Adam 2.0; he made another, different person.
We all kind of know this on a certain level, and we’ve heard this all before, especially when it comes to marriage. But I don’t know if we’ve heard it a lot when it comes to church life and when it comes to relationships there. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I find when I encounter personality difference in people who are not related to me and not married to me (ie. most people in the world), I create distance, make judgments, etc. I don’t appreciate the differences I see; I see these differences as somehow lacking, somehow bad, something I don’t really have patience for.
But imagine if I had made that call with Jeff? The best relationship I’ve ever had would not have happened; I would have bailed. Imagine if I had married Male-Version-of-Emma: It probably would have sucked. I’d be a worse person. I’d be a total narcissist, at any rate.
So the same thing would happen if St. Paul’s was made up of a bunch of Emmas. It would be homogeneous, lame, and it would fall apart at the seams. It would be a stunted, immature, and weird place; I mean, let’s be honest here: it would be a nightmare, and services could potentially just end up being screenings of Wes Anderson movies.
Something I was challenged to do after Vince’s sermon on Monday was to do a little bit of reframing: what if I changed the way I responded to difference when it came to my relationships in church? What if I extended this even further, beyond St. Paul’s and out into the Church Universal? Paul says in Corinthians that we’re all a part of a larger body, the Body of Christ. And when I encounter someone who is different from me and make some kind of judgment call, I’m basically the mouth telling the ear that he/she’s no good because he/she can’t make sound. (Which I can kind of get away with since ears can’t talk back and stuff). (But that doesn’t make it okay).
In the same way Adam and Eve became one body, we in the church become one body; it’s not that we meld into each other and lose any sense of who we are. We become a unified unit of various parts and systems working toward a common purpose. And that can only happen when we allow differences to exist in the body.