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We Need Each Other

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"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.'" (1 Cor. 12:21, NRSV)

We've worked closely together for eighteen years. We're as different as night and day. Jeff is jovial, fun-loving, playful—a stand-up comedian. I am earnest, serious-minded, scholarly—a good straight man. Jeff is the extrovert energized by people; I'm the introvert energized by introspection. Jeff loves games, trivia, movies. I love study, silence, good conversation. When we work on a project, he's the action-oriented, get-it-done guy. I'm the plan-it-well, do-it-right guy. When Jeff comes into a room, he fills it with fun, talks to everyone; people know him immediately. When I enter a room, I bring steadiness and calm; people get to know me over time. Jeff is a refreshing, bubbling brook; I'm the still water that runs deep.

Though Jeff and I are so different, we work well together as pastors in a large suburban church. Each of us has a heart filled with compassion. Rather than competing or clashing, our differing gifts and personal styles complement each other—to the benefit of the congregation. Through countless upheavals, crises, and conflicts in the church, we've turned to each other for help and support to get the job done. Not only do we respect and appreciate each other, but we bring out the best in each other.

Jeff and I have experienced the truth of the apostle Paul's description of the church as the body of Christ. Paul says that each of us is uniquely gifted by God. But in our diversity of gifts, we are all equally important to the unity and well-being of the whole:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; . . . To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. . . . For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one, so it is with Christ.

(1 Cor. 12:4, 7, 12)

In the church, Paul says, each uniquely gifted person is an indispensable part of the larger body. We are interdependent—just as in the human body, all parts are interrelated. We have different gifts, but we work together:

Indeed the [human] body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body . . . As it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

(1 Cor. 12:14-16, 18-20)

What Paul says of the church is true of any healthy marriage, family, or organization. In fact, the church is present in all of these places as much as it is present in the gatherings that take place on Sunday morning. No one person is less important or more important, but each serves the body in a distinct way. All are uniquely gifted and called to work together in a unity that preserves and honors diversity. When we experience personal, family, or work relationships that reflect this truth, we find fulfillment in the way God intended.

Jeff and I have found a sacred bond in our work together. We've experienced the truth of Paul's words: "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.' "

The ultimate gift from God comes when we know we need each other.

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