One of the more unusual of my many personality quirks is that I tend to view many parts of life like quests , and the people I am with as an adventuring party. Like any aficionado of role playing games (and I am certainly one), I ponder such questions as party balance and what roles/classes the various people I travel with fill, as well as my own contribution to party balance in the quests I take with others. I am aware that this is an odd sort of way to think, but at the same time I find that there are parts of life that are much easier to understand when we have some idea of what kind of balance we are looking for in different parts of our lives.
Let us speak with some specifics so that we can avoid speaking in too vague a manner. In most of our lives, we are not interested in questing. If we are looking for, say, drinking buddies, it is our similarities and not our balance that matters. When we are simply interested in spending a few hours crying into a beer, we are not looking for party balance, but someone who is simply a sympathetic listener who can can provide words of encouragement. I am not the sort of person who generally looks for drinking buddies, since I am not really the drinking sort of person. And, let us remember, that generally speaking drinking buddies are not the sort of people that want quests.
A quest or a mission requires a different mindset than simply looking for someone who is as identical as possible. Obviously, though, there has to be similarity on deep and fundamental levels, because if two (or more) people are on the same quest they have to have the same sort of goals and vision and worldview in order to effectively work together. Likewise, in order to effectively work well with someone you have to be able to communicate effectively and share enough information to work toward one’s common goals and objectives. And, obviously, encouragement is generally needed in different ways at different times to help keep everyone in a party working together and in good spirits.
However, if you are in an adventuring party, with a quest or a mission to accomplish, there must be differences as well as similarities. Specifically, there must be differences of function so that everything can be done that needs to be done. If one is playing a role playing game, there will often be at least a handful of functions that need to be done. For example, someone will be the leader, taking the attention of enemies on themselves while others do what they do best. Others do their best at inflicting damage on enemies in words or fighting. Still others are healers, encouraging and helping others and helping them recover from their physical and emotional wounds. And others have various skills such as the ability to open locked doors, read and interpret ancient languages, and other useful abilities that might be important depending on the mission.
It is perhaps coincidental, and perhaps not, that the Bible describes the unity of the body of Christ in the same way that one would see from a role playing game adventuring party. Ephesians 4 talks both about the unity and oneness of brethren as well as the different offices and functions that different brethren fulfill for the benefit of all. This is precisely what one sees in a role playing game. Every member of a party has a special and valuable role to play that benefits everyone as a whole. And the same is true of the Body of Christ–honor and glory belong to all who do what we have been put on this earth to do. There are no worthless or superfluous functions, no positions or roles in the body of Christ that are unworthy of respect and appreciation, no matter how humble.
It is recognizing and appreciating our own function and the functions of others within the body of Christ that is a major and consistent problem that I have seen over the course of my life. To do this task properly, it is necessary to recognize how everyone plays a part in a greater whole, and to value the contributions of all, rather than to pit and divide parts of a group against others based on a narrow view of contribution that sees some as makers and others merely as takers, without recognizing what they give and provide and how they serve others. One we can recognize the worth and value of all people, then we can have greater unity as well as greater brotherly love among each other, because we will value and respect and honor others for what they provide for the rest of us, even if it is just prayer and friendliness and encouragement.
So, therefore, it is immensely worthwhile to appreciate the skills and abilities in one’s adventuring party. With all of the tasks that need to get done for any sort of collective effort to succeed, it is important to have people with a wide variety of talents and capabilities but with the same end in mind, the same moral and ethical worldview, and the ability to communicate with others in a respectful and encouraging manner. These disparate people are joined together through a common purpose, through common beliefs and practices, and through mutual love and concern and respect. When all parts of the body of Christ have a respected and honored place and function within the larger whole, and are performing the task that they were put on this earth to do by their Creator, many of the difficulties and conflicts that we face will become much less daunting. But to resolve these problems requires us to know what we are good at, what others are good at, and to put others in their proper place as God has made us, a task that is made a little easier when we understand our adventuring party in the quests of this life.