She looked better than smart, she looked fabulous. My feet were aching just watching her in the checkout line across from mine. I shifted comfortably in my slip on shoes and my sweatpants, ran a self conscious hand through my half-brushed, no-time-for-fixing-this-mom's-hair, and couldn't help comparing...and feeling fabulously frumpy.
It happened again at home. A visit to a new blog and she looks perfect, has perfect kids, writes beautifully, tells funny jokes, and God must really love her because everyone else obviously does...and I compare.
I drop something off at a friend's and her house is immaculate, her kids are never dirty, her hair is never out of place...and I compare.
I glance through instagram, and, well, you know where this is going...I compare.
I read about my favorite missionaries and I hear about those that have never heard and I wonder when God will let me go to them, why they are there and I am here...and I compare.
She always has a full calendar: a new speaking engagement, her son's award's ceremonies, meeting with the who's whos and what's whats, a book on the best-seller list...and I compare.
And comparison hurts.
It hurts our souls and it cripples our love.
Because we were never meant to be compared to each other.
We were meant 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, 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.
"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. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
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?
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
So, what part are you? The good digestion or the full bodied hair?! Gotta love The Message version of these verses! Older versions are great for studying and memorizing, but The Message is like a fresh devotional read of the Word for me. This just hit home. I can stop typing now and call it good.
The fact is, I need you.
I need you as part of this body of Jesus we all accepted as our own. And I need you to be successful at what you do. 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.
And as humbling as it is, I'm needed, too. Because this mission is bigger than all of 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?
*I have edited and revised this post from it's original publication on Beautifully Rooted.