By Dan Crain; Pastor and connector within the REMERGE community from the Loving Freely content.
Best friends can be instigators. Best friends are supposed to play pranks on each other. At least this was the case fifteen years ago with my best friend from college, Mark. I flew into Grand Rapids, MI to spend time with him and his wife, Carolyn. I was single, was a youth pastor, wasn’t the most stylish and showed up with long hair that two months ago had spiked blond tips. My hair looked nasty. So, on a whim I decided to let Mark shave my head bald because of how bad my hair looked. Within minutes I was bald. I was single, who did I have to impress?
I woke up the next morning and as I was coming to rubbed my newly shaved head thinking to myself that this felt really weird. I then felt something on the back of my head. Upon closer observation and looking in the mirror I discovered that my best friend, Mark, had left about a square inch of hair on the back of my head. He did this, of course because he knew we were going to go to the church gathering the next day and wanted to embarrass me as much as he could. Luckily I had caught it.
I would have been extremely embarrassed because this small patch of hair was in my blind spot and the only way I was able to see it was because of a mirror.
We all have blinds spots. We all have things in our lives that we can’t see. We all have weakness. As God’s beloved children, we have to learn the art of receiving and have the humility and availability to learn, particular those of us that come from the majority white culture.
A common illustration I use with my children and the brothers in the neighborhood about letting people help us to point out our blind spots is this; At this moment, can you see the back of your head? Of course not. Your eyes are in the front of your head. You need the eyes of others to point out what you cannot see.
This is one of the core elements in order to come to a place of Loving Freely is learning to receive from others to point out the blind spots in our lives.
One of the core problems within the body of Christ right now is that we aren’t willing or even open to letting others point out our blinds spots. I think Jesus says something like, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” We have a tendency to focus so much on the faults of others, how we’re right and they’re the problem, or how our thing will solve any type of issue that we fail to miss out on the blinds spots in our own lives, ministries or even churches.
This is particularly true as the body of Christ works through its cultural blindspots. The majority white church is blind to a lot of the racial injustice that happens in our country simply because they don’t see it. As Christena Cleveland states in Disunity in Christ; “Discipleship is cross-cultural. When we meet Jesus around people who are just like us and then continue to follow Jesus with people who are just like us, we stifle our growth in Christ and open ourselves up to a world of division. However, when we’re rubbing elbows in Christian fellowship with people who are different from us, we can learn from each other and grow more like Christ.”
A good friend and fellow reconciler is Pastor Isaiah Robertson at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Cartersville. He’s passionate about knowing and honoring the history of the black church and at his Truth Summit, a panelist talked about the importance of the black church in being a “Nathan” to “David”, in helping the majority white church point out its cultural blindspots in “Why does the black church matter?”
We need to learn the art of receiving, particularly from those that are different form us. The phrase, “I receive that”, has become a common phrase I use with interactions with my wife, Adrienne the past few years. She knows me the best. She knows I am an idealist, an influencer, a rebel and somewhat of a revolutionary. I come up with ideas constantly. Some really good, some bad. But, many, many times she pulls me back to reality.
We need each other. Why? Because everyone has been gifted and wired differently. Everyone in the body of Christ brings something different to the table. A beautiful verse that unpacks this is I Peter 4:10; “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (One a side note; if you are looking to do short-term missions internationally, check out “410 Bridge”, 410 Bridge which applies this concept with short-term missions trip.)
Our financial counselor, Steve does the same thing me. Anything that has to do with process, budgeting or strategy I struggle with greatly. In one of our meetings Steve was able to help me with his gifting to think through long term planning and I was able to bless him with my gift of emotional health and learning to love freely in Christ.
This idea of learning to receive finds its origins from Philippians 4:15, “Not one church shared in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only.” Out of this idea of reciprocity within the church, Phil Hissom, who wrote Dignity Serves developed the phrase, dignified interdependent relationships. It is through giving and receiving with God and others that true unity comes together.
I love what Paul does at the end of Philippians in chapter four. He refers to the gifts that he receives from the Philippians church as “fragrant offerings, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” Then, Paul says something so brilliant to end his letter; “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of glory in Christ Jesus.”
We often miss the point here that Paul is making. What is the medium (the way), which Christ meets our needs? It’s through each other! Christ points out the blind spots in our lives through each other.
It is in learning to receive that we allow others to use their God-given gifts to bless us in order to make us more like Christ in order for him to get the glory. Imagine a community within the body of Christ where we are all fully alive in Christ and everyone is contributing their gifts to each other. In this community of giving and receiving, of pointing out each other’s blind spots, God ultimately gets the glory.
Who’s pointing out your blindspots in your life?
Who are you learning from that is different than you?