Community, comparisons, Individualism, normal, precious, Unique

Everybody is normal until you get to know them.


what’s normal?

Yesterday I spent the day with the teenagers from Church, just hanging out at Brean Leisure Park with umpteen terrifying rides to cause your blood pressure to rise!

Yet in hanging out, you realise afresh just how unique each of us are.

I hate it when people get ‘lumped together’ with certain qualities or faults attributed to us ‘en masse’ -happens to the young and the elderly all the time.

I was recently in a meeting where the conversation moved to reaching the under 40’s, I got so frustrated with the conversation (mainly carried out by people in their 50’s/60’s) that I eventually said. “we aren’t aliens, or a different species, but rather the people you meet all the time, kids, family, just out and about don’t patronise us with this idea that ‘one size fits all'”.

It often strikes me as a odd paradox that we are so obsessed by being individuals and yet we dismiss people, and sometimes whole people groups, with sweeping generalisations.

Sometimes as Church and as Christians we loose the individual in the generalisation, “God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have ever-lasting life”, a global truth but also a personal reality and revelation. Christianity is both universally true and also personally true.

we are keen that our own uniqueness is recognised, but also need to fight for the uniqueness of others to be recognised too, yet we can only do that when we ourselves recognise that in each other.

A celebration of our diversity is what enables the body of Christ to achieve all that the heart of Christ longs for, every part -every member- valuable, and without them playing their full part the body of Christ is diminished and poorer for its absence.

we all are unique both in our gifts, talents, skills and abilities, as well as in our brokenness, struggles and fallen-ness.

we all have our own history and journey which actually no one else now about us, and our journey for all of us is unique to us.

It is interesting as I know many people that want to be known, but not interested in knowing other people. They want people to appreciate them and sympathise with their difficulties, but yet seem uninterested in other peoples lives.

Others are very good at pastorally care but struggle with being known themselves, caring with others but find personal disclosure and vulnerability hard.

Yet as whole people before God we are called to know one another, to share with one another our lives -the good and the bad- and to be known. we flourish best when we are known, just as other people flourish best when they are known too.

However, getting to this place is not easy -especially for us introverts!- but it is worth it, it is so much easier to live in a polite and superficial world where everyone keeps everyone at arms length and Christian communities dies from lack of authenticity.

Yet authenticity requires tremendous bravery and courage, and sometimes and unswerving commitment of love and grace too.

This community will only flourish when we remember before Christ our own fallen-ness and need of him.

Each of us too carries many things, the hurt and baggage, the rejections and the disappointments, the brokenness and the pain… but we are not called to carry them alone, in fact we are called to carry one another’s burdens, a picture of interdependence, and yet many of us don’t really know the secret pain and struggles we carry inside.

It is an immense privilege for another human being to let us into the most sacred and precious things they are carrying (as indeed they are often the things we carry most tightly) and so we need to hold this valuable vocations seriously and deeply before God.

And for us it is something very deep and sacred to let other people into our vulnerability and what is deeply personal.

This call of Christ to be his family, living out our lives experiencing this love and also returning this love, is an incredibly costly call. Easier to blend in and be just another face in the crowd and another bum or the pew, yet that is not, and never was, the plan of God for his community on earth. It is a risky and brave calling, and when it works it is truly a fore-taste of heaven, and sadly when it fails it is incredibly and unbelievably painful.

Yet even knowing that this is risky, vulnerable and difficult to achieve in a fallen and broken world, yet let’s not give up on the dream, let’s not all become beige, lets not allow the faces in the crowd to blur together, but embrace the call and cost of a corporate life lived together for cause of Christ.

Let’s reject normal. No one is normal. we are all unique.

A bit broken, and a whole lot brilliant.

Fallen and fabulous in so many ways.

we are a celebration of God’s diversity in his world, and called to recognise this too in one another, seeing the glory not just in similarities but in difference, a key component in Christ’s mission to his world to bring it to himself in redemptive love.

He needs you and no one else will do.