Where do you look when you are hiking through the autumn forest?
Do you look up at the soaring arms of the great pines raised to the sky in praise? At the sunlight filtering in soft curtains of light down through the crimson and salmon maples?Do you look straight ahead, at the path winding mysteriously out of sight and beckoning you on? At the receding layers of craggy barked tree trunks marching along its edges, with the occasional surprise mushroom accessory? Or at the jaunty straw hat and satisfyingly fall-ish plaid shirt of a walking companion ahead?Or do you look down? Down at the dainty trailing vines between the tufts of orange pine needles, and the tidily capped wee mushrooms springing whimsically up along the damp mosses of aging stumps? At the calico of autumn leaves softly layering over the creeping cedar and wintergreen?While I was hiking with relatives recently, we talked about this, and discovered that our answers differed. Some in our hiking party were more inclined toward one than the other, therefore each bringing their own unique perspective to the commentary that enlivened our exploration of the forest.
As I was thinking about this the next day, I realized that it was actually a pretty accurate picture of the body of Christ, particularly that living, breathing organism that is the local church body. We walk the same trail as believers, reading the same Bible, loving the same Savior, but our perspectives can be astonishingly different.
Some are more likely to look ahead, seeing with vision and wisdom.
Some watch the edges and condition of the trail, wary of spiritual pitfalls.
Some are more likely to look up, calling attention to heavenly perspectives when other’s eyes waver toward the earthly.
Some look down, noticing the details that others forget or overlook, like the lonely newcomer or the overflowing garbage can.
The Bible calls these things gifts, and they are. Sometimes, though, I think we can lose sight of this in the nitty-gritty of real life. It can be easy, for instance, to get annoyed with that other person who is always worried about mowing the grass (looking at mushrooms) when you’d rather be discussing the accuracy of the latest Bible translation (looking down the path)—or vice versa. However the fact is that each perspective is valuable and needed, and they’re all meant to weave together in harmonious balance, not at odds with each other.
Or sometimes, even if we do appreciate the unique contributions of each person, we just forget to say so. So since I’m being reminded, I’d like to say thank you myself.
Thank you for being you. Thank you for the very special, irreplaceable gift that your gift is to your brothers and sisters as we walk with Jesus and endeavor to make Him known to the world.
Thank you for the things you do in private, the mundane and not-so-glorious, often unseen and unacknowledged. Thank you for the things you do in public, against the odds of criticism, embarrassment, and greater scrutiny. Thank you for speaking out to say the hard things, the kind things, the wise things. Thank you for the quietness of your inner prayers, wordless hugs, silent generosity. Thank you for perseverance when you’re misunderstood, for faithfulness when no else is.
And if you’re one of those hiding shyly in the corner, hesitant to use your gift, perhaps afraid to share it because it’s different or less popular than someone else’s, I hope this will be a gentle encouragement to you to be hold back no longer. Please, in love, let it flow out for the enrichment of the Body of Christ, because it surely will.
We need you!“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and not all members have the same function, so in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another.
We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If someone’s gift is prophecy, let him use it in proportion to his faith; if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is giving, let him give generously; if it is leading, let him lead with diligence; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:4-8)
“And as each individual part does its work, the body grows and builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)