The Compliment

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who has no one to help him up!  Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.

Most of the time when we use the word “compliment” we are saying something nice about someone else.  Yet there is another meaning which gets used less now than it did in bygone eras, I’ll have to use it in a sentence:  Those two compliment one another.  Meaning they benefit, complete and take care of one another.

The church is supposed to be this kind of atmosphere.  What one cannot do, another steps up to fill the gap.  None of us can be completely independent or self-sufficient.  Those who live this way (if you can call it “living”) seem self-reliant and okay, but really they steel themselves against the need they feel inside.  Sure they might have shut themselves off to the reality or believe they have extricated themselves from needing anyone, but the only reason anyone does this is to avoid being disappointed.

 This is an area where I lack wholeness (another word for “perfection” in Biblical terms).  I don’t really know how I came to feel the outsider, it might be that I just took it more to heart than other kids, whatever it was, I know that I felt left out of a lot of relationships.  So I began the trek into the world of books so I could find some kind of connection with people.  In books I could hear people’s thoughts, get their motivations and find some sense of belonging–even though merely as an observer.

As I entered music more and more, it also pulled me away from others in an odd way, for I began to meet them through music almost exclusively.  I used my guitar to attract them and then the songs to hold their attention.  I honestly felt nothing else I offered gave them a reason to stick around.  Of course an attitude like that leads to misunderstanding other people feel the same need.  In the late sixties and early seventies the pop world emphasized individuality to the point everyone felt like worlds unto themselves, though there were definitely pockets of people teaching commonality and community.  Songs and posters telling us no one can know how we feel programmed a generation into isolation.

Yet the songs did know how we felt or we wouldn’t have related to them.  We can’t escape our need of each other and shouldn’t want to, but fear keeps us out of reach.  We desperately crave community and acceptance all the while we are attempting to escape its clutches or control.  Being on the outside of this social turmoil has its advantages because people like me stand back and observe, though our viewpoint is many times skewed by resentment and feeling ostracized.

Let me stop here to make clear I don’t feel this isolation anymore, not since I gave it up for Jesus.  He brought me into community, although He worked pretty hard to change my fear of people into a genuine love for them.  By the time I turned 25, I let go of much of what held me back from church body.  I am only telling my experience to show you what I know about being outside the community and it’s taken years of redirection and education in the Word to get me admit I needed them.

One of the reasons, however, I struggled to give it up to any church was the way many of them seemed to force a political, social or particular doctrinal agenda.  I am an odd blend of SDA, hippy rock n roll and Evangelical…How could I help but be such since I grew up SDA but have accepted a more ecumenical stance?  Many arriving to the community of believers from such strong churches as Catholicism and Pentecostalism find they still hold certain POV from their past and incorporate these into the group in which they find themselves.

Our tribal, social strata, nationalistic and other affiliations have been greatly destroyed by the sixties in an effort to preach the better truth of shared humanity.  Yet many have tried to throw the baby out with the bath water by shunning any emphasis on the racial differences to escape the insidiousness of racism.  While I understand this as white man, as a Christian I find it repulsive and godless.  The differences between us racially would be best served if we celebrated our heritage where it is noble and rejected what showed itself as ignoble–but doing both with open discussion and without blinders on of any kind.

The lesson for the church is our disparate abilities compliment and serve one another. 

The abilities themselves give no one more or less inherent value for they are just another means for the follower of the Master to wash one another’s feet.  As in my last blog entry where I quoted Paul discussing the different gifts, we serve one another with these abilities, all the while avoiding the trap of the world’s perception of some being better than others.  Again, here’s how our Master taught us to behave:  Jesus called them (the disciples) together and said,  “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of  Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.  Mark 10:42-45.

So you see we have a mandate to keep our hearts from vying for position or status in church.  It is so pronounced a teaching in the NT, Jesus repeated it several times in various ways.  All of us from pastors to ditch diggers belong to one body and no one holds more power or honor than others.  A pastor who honors his or congregation above himself/herself demonstrates the attitude of Christ as an example for them to follow.  The ditch digger who earns less than most demonstrates his or her greatness in the church by becoming wise in the things of God through His Son Jesus Christ.  Both use their gifts and abilities to serve the church; both are worth the life of the Son of God; both demonstrate the commonality and community the world lacks by warming their brothers and sisters, bearing their burdens for a time, washing their feet when they are dirty (rebuke, correction and teaching in righteousness) and giving of themselves to the betterment of the body.

Without this kind of loving service to one another, the church is just a religious collection of people lacking any life or vitality, and completely misrepresenting the nature of Jesus Christ to those who watch them.  As the Bard wrote years ago, “All the world’s a stage…”  On that stage where the cross casts its shadow should be inacted the principles of unity through diversity Jesus so emphatically taught before His death.  In our daily routines and fellowships we must complete in others what they lack.  Paul said it better,  We apostles have been put on display at the end of the procession… 

If this is how one of our greatest theologians thought of himself and his compatriots, how should we consider ourselves?

There is a reason why some are not preachers and others are.  I’ve met preachers who cannot even drive a nail.  I know a member of one my churches who gets confused by almost any kind construction yet is a lawyer and intellect.  The former truth doesn’t make him an idiot nor does the latter make him superior, rather it makes him able to service others in a way they can’t help themselves.  Yet people like me who are gifted at driving a nail and shaping wood complete him.  I’ve met carpenters who are deep philosophers but will never be clerical or writers; I’ve met clerical people who cannot think spatially.  Each completes in the other what they other lacks and, hopefully, serves to lift the other up.

This is what being family means through the view of the cross.


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4 Responses to “The Compliment”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Why do you suppose there is so much vying for position and so little mentorship?

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    Instead of seeing Jesus as an example to follow, we see Him as a ticket to something better. Meaning in reality, we haven’t allowed the heart change to reach our dreams of grandeur and respect to be transformed into the image of Christ. So we defend our place, our status, our position against all threats. No self-respecting leader of the church would admit to wanting to be God, but he or she will definitely claim being His mouthpiece, which puts them above questioning.

    Unquestioned authority is dangerous and without question ungodly. Those who cannot or refuse to be challenged are usually afraid of the foundation on which they stand being knocked out from under them, which says to me they are not standing on the Rock Christ Jesus.

    Jesus came to serve. Anyone who agrees with this then adds, “Yeah, but…” has a self-made agenda.

    I believe the true church is not an organization, denomination or specific congregation. Rather the true church is only found in the company of those who live, breathe and serve as Jesus did and commands us to do.

    The carnal man looks to find profit for this life, the spiritual man uses whatever profit is at his command in this life to invest in the kingdom of God now and for the future.

  3. tlc4women Says:

    I LOVED THIS ANSWER! Good scripture reference for the reason. We HAVE to have someone coming up behind us in leadership (mentoring) at our church. The goal is to work ourselves out of a job so we can move onto what God has for us.

    We have certainly seen the pastors who don’t allow the congregation to question them. What is sad in that deal is that the people can’t grow beyond their pastor even at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. They grow stagnant and many lose their relationships with Christ over the sheer frustration and confusion. Which totally then negates what Jesus said ‘these things you shall do and greater still’. If the Lord wasn’t afraid of the power of relationship then why should we? Very good post!

    p.s. completely off topic. Can you send me an email from my site? I want to ask you to write a guest post for something I am doing on my site. Thanks!

  4. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    I’m not sure how to do this but sure.

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