“One of the great joys in life should be making emotional connections with others who are equally unique. Making emotional connections is a messy business and we all have a number of emotional challenges to deal with…As Christians we must have the type of patient and deep love that allows us to make superior emotional connections.”
-Russ Ewell, When God Isn’t Attractive
One of my favorite albums from this past year was rapper Childish Gambino’s Grammy-nominated project, Awaken my Love!, which, to the surprise of many, was completely void of rap. A powerfully soulful ode to old R&B, the album touched on topics such as falling in and out of love, racial oppression, and young fatherhood. One song that has often gone overlooked is the second track on the album “Have Some Love.” With all the division and turmoil going on in society today, Childish Gambino calls for a unity and brotherhood that has been lacking in the world.
“Have a word for your brother, have some time for one another/Really love one another, it’s so hard to find.”
-Childish Gambino, Have Some Love
The message is so simple, yet so often neglected. In today’s world, it is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and how we are going to get ahead that we fail to see the needs of those around us, or even our own need for those around us. We would rather succeed in our careers than look out for others, and would rather die than admit that we need others to look out for us. But the more we focus on ourselves, the less we are able to make a difference. The Bible addresses this need to work together for something greater. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul urges the church of Corinth to stop comparing themselves to each other and focusing on what divides them, and to build off of each others strengths and weaknesses to work toward a greater purpose. He compares their group to a human body. Like the parts of the body, each individual has something that no one else in the group can bring, and everyone is dependent on each other to move. When we become focused on ourselves, we can become two types of people: we either don’t believe that we can bring anything substantial to the group, or don’t believe that we need anyone else in the group. Within his analogy, Paul calls these types of people “ears” and “eyes.”
The ear might say, “I am not an eye, so I don’t belong to the body.” But saying this would not make the ear stop being a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, it would not be able to hear. If the whole body were an ear, it would not be able to smell anything. If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But as it is, God put the parts in the body as he wanted them. He made a place for each one. So there are many parts, but only one body.
-1 Corinthians 12:16-20 ERV
One reason we may not want to reach out to others to care about them is that we don’t think we have anything to give. We look at our circumstances, our past, our limitations, and accept defeat before we even try. When I lack confidence in myself and what I bring to the table, I compare myself to other people, thinking that I will never measure up to their level of talent or ability, and I give up. I think that I would just mess it up, someone else could do it better, and that it would be better if I just didn’t interfere. As the scripture above explains, I make more of a difference than I think I do. If I spend my whole life comparing myself to eyes, I will never fulfill my purpose as an ear. There is a role in the lives around us that only we can perform, a hole that only we can fill. To deny this and believe the lies we tell ourselves that we don’t amount to anything is to deprive the people around us of what we are capable of giving them. The very limitations and weaknesses that we think hold us back from giving can actually be the very things that relate to and help the people around us.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the foot, “I don’t need you!” No, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are actually very important. And the parts that we think are not worth very much are the parts we give the most care to. And we give special care to the parts of the body that we don’t want to show.
-1 Corinthians 12:21-23 ERV
One thing that may stop us from working together with others to do something great is the mindset that we are above them or somehow don’t need them. In contrast to the “ears,” we look at our successes, talents, and experiences and compare ourselves to those we see as less than us. We base so much confidence in our ability to be self-reliant that we miss out on what expressing need to others can do for us. When I try to do everything myself, I can only go so far. It is only when I let go of my fear of losing control and acknowledge and express my need for those around me that we can do something incredible together. I need to swallow my pride and recognize that others are strong where I am weak, and that that’s okay. We become more willing to see where we need others when our goal shifts from self-reliance to making an impact together.
God did this so that our body would not be divided. God wanted the different parts to care the same for each other. If one part of the body suffers, then all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part is honored, then all the other parts share its honor.
-1 Corinthians 12:25-26 ERV
Rather than focusing on what divides us, God calls us to strive toward what unites us, building on each other’s strengths and weaknesses to work toward a greater purpose. In a world that is increasingly becoming divided, we need to join forces now more than ever. The moment we see that we are so much stronger together than we are apart is the moment we begin to change the world.
“There’s a big wide world out there I need to get in, we have got to really stay together/and I hope and I pray, we will find it someday/we have got to really stay together.”
-Childish Gambino, Have Some Love
What weaknesses or limitations can you use to help you give to others? What ways do you see your need for those around you? How can you work together to make an impact?
To learn more about how God is pushing you toward a greater purpose, join college students all over the Bay Area by registering for the BACC Campus Retreat, “Made for This.”
To learn more about how to work together for something greater, read chapter 5 of Russ Ewell’s book, When God Isn’t Attractive, “How We Can Change the World.”