Don’t let the title throw you – sometimes it’s ok to be needy. The idea of being needy is usually associated with negative sentiment – it’s usually considered a bad thing. We’re going to talk about that today a little, but first…
This past Monday, many celebrated the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., so I thought it would be appropriate in our discussion of the interrelatedness of our spiritual gifts if we began with one of his quotes:
“In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men [and women] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be . . . This is the interrelated structure of reality.”1
What does it mean to be interrelated? To be part of an inescapable network? Does that describe our church? Is that how we think about our gifts working together? Or does our church and its disciples operate more independently of one another? This sums up what we’re about today, a little bit, in relation to baptism – we’re welcoming new members into Christ’s family, as well as our family here at the church.
(v12) “. . . all the members of the body, though many, are one . . .”
In the body of Christ, all of us and the gifts that we bring to the church are indeed interrelated. We cannot succeed in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, unless we are working together, truly valuing and depending on the gifts that each disciple offers for the good of the whole.
(1v4-17) “. . . the body does not consist of one member but of many.
. . . Because I am not a hand, I do not belong . . . not . . . any less a part of the body.
. . . Because I am not an eye, I do not belong . . . not . . . any less a part of the body.
. . . If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
. . . If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
In this mission, there is no room for ego, belittling, or looking down upon the gifts of others. When we are all working together to make and grow disciples, no task is less important than another.
People often think that there are “better” gifts, but all of the gifts are important. Let’s break this down a bit – in the terms of a Sunday morning, what gifts are really important for us to have present here? Hospitality for sure – we need to be welcoming – so those that are uniquely gifted at welcoming people are outgoing and meet/greet people as they come in. What about the music? We certainly couldn’t worship if we didn’t have those gifted with music to share? But during the week, are those gifts as important? No, when we found out the chimney was clogged and things were looking down or there are financial issues with the conference, those with the gifts of administration are the right ones to have around.
(v19) “If all were a single member, where would the body be?”
(v21-22) “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
(v22) “On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,”
(v23) “and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect . . .”
Let’s use our imagination for a moment and create a fictitious “neediness survey.”
For the following statements, rate how much you agree or disagree. (1) if you disagree, (5) if you agree. Hold your hand up with the number. Be honest!
- It is okay to need another person’s help.
- All that I need I can provide.
- Don’t ask me for help. I’ll offer help when I can.
- I would come close to death before I would consider asking for help.
- It makes me uncomfortable to ask for help.
This thoroughly unscientific poll reveals a few possibilities:
- We are uncomfortable being vulnerable.
- We are uncomfortable asking for help.
- We don’t have extra time to help.
(v26) “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
When it comes to recognizing the interrelated nature of our gifts, we must come to terms with our own vulnerability and dependency; and we must declare that it is okay to need one another!
The reality is there are many parts of the body that aren’t always functioning, and those parts often don’t realize how it hurts the whole. This is not about guilt or telling you to do more. No, this is to say — with honesty and love — that we need you and we need one another. God has gifted you in ways that God has not gifted me. We need you to show up and share your gifts, because without your gifts, this body will not function the way it was meant to function. And isn’t that our ultimate goal: to function the way God intends? To fulfill the call on our lives to be who God created us to be in the context of this community? The answer is “of course!” The world is a better place when we recognize that we are needy, and the we are God’s answer to our prayers for one another. Amen?