In this journey of faith and fellowship, I keep coming across books and blogs by authors who decry this or that perspective in the Body of Christ, while then arguing that we must see things through the glasses of their own unique perspective – often under very enticing rhetoric.
In essence, their books and blogs express unrealistic aspirations – as they promote some theoretical concept of church and community that looks, thinks and acts just like them.
If truth be told, we’re all guilty – to some extent – of trying to do the same thing.
There are certain core Biblical precepts, and sound doctrine, which are binding on all of us. Beyond those essentials, however, God has chosen to bless the Body of Christ with many different gifts, motivations and perspectives.
It’s like we each have different glasses that allow us to see and sense, and thus understand and do, different things.
We need those with different gifts, motivations and perspectives – in the framework of the diverse Body of Christ – to keep us and our fellowships from becoming trapped in our various comfort zones.
So whenever someone decries those who wear different glasses, because they happen to see and do things differently than the things others see and do, be weary.
Often, they are pushing a new form of legalism that’s rampant today – as folks promote their own gifts, motivations and perspectives on the Body of Christ as normative for all.
If you look behind the curtain, however, rarely will you find a history of any actual, healthy churches or any sustained ability to be truly integrated in a local, diverse fellowship – unless it’s a mono-church centered around them (or those like them) and their gifts, motivations and perspectives.
Mono-church, however, is seldom healthy or lasting. It typically starts with a bang as their strengths are accentuated, but ends badly – for them and everyone else – as their limitations eventually catch up with them.
We need each other’s differences.
For example, maybe God’s gifted you as an exhorter, and you see and interact with Him, others and the world primarily through the lens of relationships and the need to maintain harmony and peace. See Understanding the Seven Motivational Gifts.
That makes wonderful glasses! We need exhorters – often they supply the social glue that binds a community together.
Or maybe you wear the glasses of a teacher – who brings stability to a fellowship through detailed study, contemplation and understanding.
Those too are wonderful glasses.
But healthy community, and the Body of Christ, is so much more.
The Unity of Diversity
If we expect everyone to wear our glasses, where is the place in our churches for those – and their vitally needed but very different gifts, motivations and perspectives – who see the Lord, others and the world through different lenses?
If we all wore the glasses of an exhorter or a teacher, where would be the gifts, motivations and perspectives of truth and justice, or compassion and mercy, or creating and giving, or initiating and implementing, or serving and helping, or whatever?
Even love, which is the common motivation we all should share in the Lord, is expressed very differently depending on our different gifts, motivations and perspectives.
Authentic love may be embracing, compassionate and sentimental – but not always!
For example, in the Body of Christ we need the gifts, motivations and perspectives of those who wear prophetic glasses – and thus sometimes express a fierce protective love that defends others by confronting injustice or unrepentant sin.
Likewise, we need those who see with evangelistic glasses, mercy glasses, healing glasses, administration glasses, helper glasses, giver glasses, pastoral glasses, apostolic glasses, and on and on. See Ekklesia and Diverse Gifts, Part 3: What A Meeting Looks Like.
When we de-legitimize those who do not see through our own glasses – even with an enticing blog that emphasizes the strengths of our own lenses while negatively stereotyping other lenses – then we are robbing the Body of Christ of vital but different gifts, motivations and perspectives.
In essence, we are saying the Body of Christ needs to see, think and do just like us.
Unity is NOT conformity.
True unity is learning to embrace the essentials, while respecting, affirming and working together in the wonderful diversity that comes from the nonetheless different gifts, motivations and perspectives that God bestows on His people.
~ Jim Wright
- Breaking Out (crossroadjunction.com)
- Ekklesia and Diverse Gifts, Part 1: The Motivational Gifts (crossroadjunction.com)
- Understanding the Seven Motivational Gifts (crossroadjunction.com)