Glasses

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.

diversity-clipartIn 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.

Different Glasses

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.

Different Gifts

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.

B-o-r-i-n-g!

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

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8 responses

  1. I think God loves diversity – reminds me of the Lincoln quote to the effect that God must love common people because he made so many of them – the Lord created diversity, this glorious mess, a creation of unsolvable complexity & this is the way He made it, to reflect His character – and it both pains & amuses me that there are so many anal ocd types who demand an explanation for everything, but mostly a refection of themselves, pushing for conformity in doctrine, in worship, etc – it seems to me the various manifestations of His church should reflect His diverse nature – but of course someone will always say “God is not a God of confusion” or something like that – but of course He isnt – we’re the confused ones – i’m of the “Glory be to God for dappled things” camp of G.M Hopkins

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    • One of my favorite poems, first read and memorized in college and a constant companion ever since:

      Pied Beauty

      GLORY be to God for dappled things—
         For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
            For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
      Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
         Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
            And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

      All things counter, original, spare, strange;
         Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
            With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
      He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
               Praise him.

      ~ Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)

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  2. I agree with you overall Jim but differ a bit in not believing that just because one has a vision of fellowship that they are touting that that necessarily makes them out to want others to go about looking at things only through their glasses.

    For example…

    I want everyone to get away from the pastor centric and pastor exalting methodology of doing church that is so very prevalent in the church of today. To exalt Christ as we ALL act together as a Body to do His will alongside one another.

    While that may seem like what we actually do…it isn’t.

    To the degree that the pastoral role takes precedence over other gifts and exerts itself to be THE gift that becomes the face of any local church to that degree the other gifts get suppressed and Christ as a practical Head takes a back seat to…well…the Pastor.

    Like the lean cows of Pharaoh’s dream the pastoral role of today consumes every other gift and raises itself up to portray itself as being more important than anyone else. It becomes the prophet, and teacher, and evangelist of Ephesians 4:11 and it ALONE makes itself responsible for building up the saints through the ministry of the Word to enable everyone else to do the work of ministry.

    Assuming for a minute that my view of all this is based on biblical truth and reflects the heart of God for the life of the church…is such a view indicative of me wanting everyone to see only through my glasses while wanting to ignore the view of anyone else which might also reflect the heart of God?

    It’s possible I suppose (after all the heart is very deceitful) but I prefer to think that this is just the heart of God welling up in me to express how He wishes to do things.

    If something is based squarely on biblical principles for the life of the Body I think it’s perfectly acceptable and pleasing to God that we lay it out as something that we, as a Body, ought all to follow.

    For the health and well being of all.

    I would like to believe that I am wanting everyone to see through the glasses that Jesus is wearing rather than just through some myopic view that comes to me through my particular gifting.

    Carlos

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    • Well said.

      I guess one can be accused of have a motive and perspective that wants to see diversity come forth, based on clear Biblical precepts. If so, I too plead guilty!

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  3. Jim – good insights! I am a firm believer in learning to see from another’s perspective. However, one thing God has shown me in the past couple years is this. Even more important than seeing from another person’s perspective is seeing from GOD’s perspective. For example – if my wife and I are in an argument – seeing from each other’s perspective is helpful and can help the other person know that we care and desire to listen. However, until we both are able to see from God’s perspective(truth and love), the argument is rarely resolved. Rampant in the Body of Christ are all kinds of various perspectives about different ways of looking at scripture and our responsibility toward it. Only when we see from God’s perspective can we really understand it. One caveat: Even the ability to see from God’s perspective and hear from him personally turns into an argument or debate for some.

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  4. Pingback: Discovering Our Motivational Gifts « Crossroad Junction

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