When we were kids, my brother and I used to fight from time to time. He was great at this one particular move where he would grab my arm and proceed to beat on me with my own hand. Surely enough, he’d taunt me with these words, “Quit hitting yourself!” I know you know what I’m talking about.
Remember the story; it’ll come in handy later on.
Something About Me
I love words (says the writer.)
Words have great power over me. Wether I’m in a classroom, at a concert, or sitting in a small group the words spoken and sung in those environments have a dramatic impact on my experience. I’m hopelessly captivated by books, lectures, and meaningful conversation.
That’s why its easy for me to pick up the Bible and spend hours with God. That’s why I get great joy from sitting across a table and speaking Truth into ears that desperately need it. That’s why I labor in writing words for an audience that may or may not even exist.
Enough About Me
Maybe you don’t love the written word; you love music, or nature, or playing with children, and on we could go… Maybe your deepest experience of intimacy with God is found under a bridge while handing out blankets. Those are all wonderful things created for His glory and your joy.
Here’s a shocker: We’re two different people.
The manner in which God uses us will always be different. If God has given me the absurd compulsion to read dusty old Bible commentaries written by dead guys in funny hats (which he has,) then I’d be out of my mind to expect you to share that same peculiar passion.
Divide and Conquer
This is why community gets messy. You take a guy who just got done memorizing the entire book of Ephesians and put him in a room with a girl who couldn’t quote you anything past John 3:16, yet spends 2 hours a day devoted in prayer for others.
Two. Different. People. I smell a Christian sitcom…
All of a sudden, the Bible guy is snapping at the prayer girl for not knowing enough Scripture and the prayer girl is snapping at the Bible guy for not being “spiritual” enough. Both of them are self-righteous. Sparks fly and we quickly depart from the Biblical image of iron sharpening iron.
As one person slams the other, it becomes more like a large axe beating against a tree.
(Just take a guess at which one I identify with.)
Different Members of One Body
I’d strongly suggest reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, but here’s the meat of it:
“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…”
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV
One body; many members… We need to stop looking at our unique spiritual wirings as points of division and embracing them as points of unity.
- The Bible guy needs prayer girl to teach and model for Him that our relationship with God is so much more than one of mere intellectual assent.
- The prayer girl needs Bible guy to help her discover the beautiful life-giving Truth that God’s Word has to offer.
- Everyone else in the room needs these two to get along and bring their unique gifts to the conversation.
Quit Hitting Yourself
If we consider what the Bible says about believers being one body united in Christ, then an attack on one of our Christian brothers or sisters essentially becomes an attack on ourselves. Its about as silly and painful as hitting yourself with your own hand, yet we still do it.
So here are my questions for you…
- Are you the Bible guy? Do you beat up on the people in your small group because they haven’t joined you in your quest to read the entire Bible in a week?
- Or, are you the prayer girl? Do you cast the intellectual types in your small-group as mere theological bullies and question their devotion?
- Have you decided that your way is the best way and that all of the other believers in your life should conform to your personal template for holiness?
If you said yes, then you’re not alone. I’m with you. We’re all with you.
Thank God that He loves us and gives us the grace to quit hitting ourselves.