One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you guess which thing is not like the other?
Before I finish my song? (Sesame Street)
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.(1st Corinthians 12: 21-26)
I have had one of those weeks where it feels like no matter where I turn, I’m the ‘odd one out’. Usually, I’m pretty much o.k. with that. I’ve hit a point in my life where its far easier to be exactly who I am than to try and do the teenaged conformity routine. You know the one – where you are ‘different, just like everyone else’?
But this week there were a whole bunch of settings where I felt like I was swimming against the current, and that what I was trying to say was being lost in the cacophony of voices telling me how I SHOULD act, how I SHOULD feel and even how I SHOULD look. And if I’m entirely honest, some of the voices pointing out how different I am were pretty loud and pretty hurtful. I have noticed that we all seem to have a vested interest in making people, well, like us. We want people to think like us – to respond like us – to even look like us. Sometimes this is pretty subtle and couched in a whole lot of ‘well-meaning’. You know – the fussing over someone’s hair and then giving them the card for your own stylist even if they didn’t ask. Sometimes this is more overt and a little more hostile; like when gender role expectations are laid out at a gathering, and all women are expected to serve, and all men are expected to lift heavy objects, regardless of the gender expression and capability; and then those who aren’t conforming to these expectations are called names like ‘lazy’ or ‘entitled”.
At the same time, our wonderful community of faith has been wrestling with what it means to actually say “All are welcome”, as is painted on our sign; in light of the changing restrictions for the Pandemic. Can we ask that all people are double-vaxxed if they want to enter our building? We do pretty much have a vaccine positive crowd; something that I am grateful for. But we also know that there are plenty of people in our community who, for whatever reason, aren’t double-vaxxed, or who think that their vaccine status is their own private information. Can we say to them – well, sorry – you aren’t like us – you don’t think like us – no, you can’t be part of us despite what we painted our sign to say at the front of the building?
Of course, the answer is that we can’t do that.
But I’m going to take it things just a teensy bit further, and say, not only do we need to set things up so that all people, regardless of what they think are welcomed into our space, but that we need to also approach their difference in thinking from a place of ultimate respect for their thinking and their decisions.
And not try to subtly, or not so subtly try to change them into thinking the way that we do.
Because, God has gifted all of us to function together; as separate parts of one whole. Not the same part making up a bunch of, well, same parts; but different parts – that look, act, think AND function differently, to make up one body of Christ.
So that ‘when one part is honored, the whole rejoices with it’.
So, my friends, I hope you’ll help me not only honour my differences; because they are necessary for the whole of the body of Christ, but I hope you’ll help me honour all differences. All differences that were created equally and perfectly. All differences, because its only this way that we can see all of God.
Blessings today and remember you are Loved,