By Dan Crain; Pastor, shepherd, and connector within the REMERGE community.
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. 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.
We need to learn the art of receiving. 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, the writer of Philippians does at the end of this section 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.”
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.
Paul says it like this in I Corinthians 12; “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 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!”” We all need each other in Christ. This is how the body is built up. We need each other to point out the blind spots in our lives.
This is what’s unique about the approach of REMERGE regarding poverty and homelessness. We apply these principles to the way we love and serve our neighbors on the margins. They are our friends and as such often times point out our blinds spots. We are simply asking the question; “What does it mean to be the body of Christ with the vulnerable?”
I guarantee in that community there will be no blind spots and no small patches of hair on the back of anyone’s head!