“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8 ESV)
I have a confession. I have had a tendency in my life to obsess over people whom I have personally deemed to be “intelligent.” I would scour the internet, magazines, quotes and books to try and glean the intelligence of folks who I thought “had arrived” in life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as there are reasons these people got to where they are, but I had it all wrong. I thought that there was one type of intelligence that really mattered most. News flash to me — there is not. It takes many types of intelligence and gifts to make the world go ’round, and the ones who are making a difference are not always the ones you can see.
Since I have been on the Leadership Team and the Pastoral Search Team, I have been more awakened to the fact that we need all kinds of intelligence, personality styles, gifts and minds to make things come together. And we need affectionate love for one another. It may seem obvious to many, but to me, it was not — maybe because I have been in a comfortable place hanging around like-minded who are easy to love.
When it comes to the Body of Christ, God can speak through anybody, and not just in the way that we have been trained to think. The woman who seems extremely inefficient, but is more Spirit-led – we need her discernment. The guy who seems super fussy and focuses on the most seemingly insignificant points – we need his razor-sharp attention to detail. The man who is a driver and seems to push us so hard that it is frustrating at times – we need him to help us move forward and get things done. The woman who seems frail yet is emotionally sensitive to the people who are outcasts and calls our attention to them – we need her tenderness. I could think of countless more examples like that.
Why is the New Testament filled with verses that call the Body of Christ to work together in unity, in peace, in love, in one Spirit? Based on my own experience and what we see with the New Testament Christians and with our own culture, I would venture to say because it is very, very difficult to do. Yet it is absolutely necessary. The beauty of it is, God essentially levels our individual walls of pride and arrogance, and humbles us so that we need Him to be unified and work together in love.
As much as I would like to think I have things together, I don’t. Not even close. I need people who can point out things that I would never have seen or thought of. I need others who come from backgrounds and perspectives foreign to me to sharpen me. I would even dare say that some of my best lessons learned in life have come from people whom I didn’t like, or didn’t have a good connection with, yet God used them to help me grow.
Recently, I listened to a sermon on the radio, and the pastor asked, “What if everyone at church worshipped like you? What if everyone tithed like you? What if everyone prayed like you? Studied the Bible like you? Loved like you?” The thought made me cringe a little, and I was humbled, thinking that would not be a vibrant church, knowing my own weaknesses.
Ask yourself those same questions. What if everyone in the church were like you? Sure, it would run flawlessly, as you would all be of like mind and do things exactly the same. But it would lack depth, richness, beauty, growth. When you come across someone who thinks and acts vastly different from you, try to focus on what they bring to the table that you wouldn’t be able to bring, and be thankful for how God made them so different from you.
Brandy can be reached via email here.