So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" - John 21:21-22
It can be a difficult thing to live in community with other people, especially as Christ as has called us to live in community.
In community not only do we have to deal with the difficulties of different personalities converging together, but also the convergence of different stories, races, genders, ages, social classes, and the list goes on.
However, perhaps the most difficult part of living in community isn’t necessarily found in what we have to “deal” with outside of ourselves, but what these external factors reveal about what is really going inside of us.
For instance, often times when I find myself in a group of other people my mind is tempted to go to a place of comparison. Whether it is a comparison of looks, wealth, personality, toys, or intelligence, my mind wants to be released to draw up distinctions between them and me. In the moments when I put up little fight and allow my mind to enter this place, what I find is that where I enter is a place of war, a war of what my pride and insecurity want to tell me, verses what faith and the Holy Spirit want to tell me; about who I am, who they are, and ultimately, who God is.
“Don’t worry about him, “ Jesus says to Peter after he inquires about John, “You just follow me.”
When we choose to play the comparison game and judge ourselves by the lives of other people, we no longer stay focused on being faithful to the leading of Christ in our own lives. When we allow our vision and attention to be occupied by “John” we risk being unfaithful to our own journey, becoming distracted by focusing on what were not, rather than allowing Jesus to show us who we are.
Here’s the truth of the matter: There will always be people richer or poorer than we are. There will always be people prettier or more ugly, happier or sadder, more holy or lost than we find ourselves to be at that moment.
There is no peace in these places.
Peace is found when we put down our pride and insecurity, and willingly accept our acceptance. When we accept, as the old hymn says, the reality that Jesus takes me “just as I am”.
Author, C.S. Lewis, once stated that we are all different characters in the great story of God, and all of us are called to learn how to play “great parts without pride and small parts without shame.”
My encouragement to you, if you wrestle as I sometimes do with playing the comparison game, is simply this: Be you. Remain in Him. Play the part Christ has given you to play, and encourage others to do the same. Then will have something to really show this world about what it means to be “in” Christ.