Sunday, April 3, 2016

Outlook and Perspective in God's Kingdom

Last night, I watched my sister compete in Australia in the World Crew Club Dragon Boat competition. They had to qualify and be mighty good to get that far. I was so proud of her, and lost a lot of sleep to stay up for the race. Her team was my favorite, but my second favorite was a breast cancer survivor team (particularly in light of my own recent diagnosis of breast cancer.) My favorite name of any team: Missabitatitti Breast Cancer Survivors Rowing Club. Anyway, they interviewed one quite heavy woman who was on the gold winning team! She said growing up she had never been athletic, never won anything, and never good at much. Then she got cancer.

She started rowing because she was told exercise helped breast cancer survivors. She was hooked, and now, a few years later, she was a gold medalist in a world competition. "Cancer will make your life different," she said, "And you have to learn to live in the new situation, but it is not without joy."

That's probably not an exact quote, but it's close. Talk about someone given a rough road to walk! She was not your typical athlete, quite overweight, and had been delivered a deathly disease. How did she respond? With a great outlook that changed her destiny.

One of my good friends and I were chatting about a person with a very different perspective. He finds no pleasure when his impossible expectations are not met in the incredible things he constructs and creates. His work is truly remarkable, and yet he never seems content. My friend struggles to understand why he has to go to such extremes in what he builds, rather than be satisfied with much less expensive, labor intensive, or draining projects.

I have a perfectionist bent, so I understand the personality type. However, I also understand my friend's frustration with him. Good enough is never good enough in his world, and those who would settle for less earn his contempt.

Analogies often help me, so I proposed one to my friend. I love red wine, and have a glass with dinner almost each night. However, I am hardly a connoisseur. I drink boxed red wine. I am sure wine drinkers who understand fine wine cringe to read that. I cringe to think anyone would pay $500 or more for a bottle of wine. I wouldn't, even if I had the money (which I don't). However, I can't tell the difference between boxed wine, a $10 bottle of wine, or a $100 bottle of wine. Fine wine would be wasted on me.

But for those who know wine, and understand all the nuances of fine wine, there is a world of difference and they CAN taste it. (I would presume...otherwise, they are just plain loco or snobs.)
For this person my friend described who creates exquisite beauty from materials very few people would ever bother with, every molecule of his being understands and cherishes each detail of workmanship. He can't settle for less. It is as difficult for him to understand those who do settle as it is for others to understand his frustrated perfectionism and intensity.

Tension is created. The wine connoisseur can mock and denigrate me with my boxed wine as plebeian, and uncouth. I can roll my eyes at his conspicuous consumption as he washes $50 per sip of fine wine around his palate.

This is why Jesus says," Where two or more are gathered in my name, there will I be."

He knows that two or more can almost never gather and agree about anything!

Furthermore, we are all created uniquely, and that is a good thing. However, we must be careful. We should not claim our uniqueness as a cover for sin. For example, if I claim I am better because I am so much more economical than the connoisseur, or more environmentally aware because my one box replaces his five bottles...then I have crossed over from unique into arrogant.

And if the connoisseur looks down his nose at me, and will have nothing to do with me but belittle and insult because he feels I have no taste and no standards, then he has crossed over from unique to insulting and uncharitable.

This is even more critical in the body of Christ-followers. The Bible is clear that we are all made for a unique and essential function. Nonetheless, we are part of one body: the body of Christ. If any part suffers, the whole body suffers. All are needed, and all are created to serve in their unique gifting to further God's kingdom.

My mind keeps ricocheting back to the heavy rower, the breast cancer survivor who never won anything, clutching her gold medal. That's how we should be using whatever God hands us. Go for the gold with all the unique qualities He has given you, and be matter what.

(For the record, if someone wants to buy me a $500 bottle of red wine, I will not be throwing it out the window unused.)

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. ...

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

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