My current Facebook cover is an image with the words “Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.”
While the psychological concept “impostor syndrome”—a persistent doubting of one’s abilities leading to the fear of being exposed as a fraud—may seem like a modern-day phenomenon, Paul is addressing in today’s text the issue of comparison among the community, indicating that perhaps individuals have struggled with this for millennia.
I can personally attest to how feeling unqualified, not trusting my experience, and having unresolved trauma and a deep sense of unworthiness (just to name a few characteristics of impostor syndrome) can and will stunt your personal and professional growth. Too often I get stuck comparing myself to others. Like the people in the early church, I need clear reminders of who I am.
This is what Paul does for the church in inner turmoil. In this section of his letter, Paul clearly affirms for the church, “You are the body of Christ.” Paul saw them, knew their gifts, and believed in their potential. He acknowledged their fears and questions. Paul did not want them to get stuck. He wanted them to keep growing. The risk was too great. The world needed the radical message of Jesus, and the church was called to bring it!
The world pushes a fraudulent “bootstraps” and dog-eat-dog mentality. As the church, we are to proclaim grace, unconditional love, and right relationship with God, neighbor, self, and all of creation. Today, let’s stand on Paul’s affirmation so we can authentically live into our unique role in the body of Christ. Impostor syndrome be damned!
Dear God, help us to see you in our face and in the faces of everyone we encounter today. Only then can we fully be one body. Amen.
How do we feel when we read the word of God? The Israelites rejoice in God’s law. At the time of the restoration of Jerusalem after the return from exile, Ezra reads from the Law and explains its meaning to the people. They respond by holding a feast because understanding God’s teachings is a source of joy. The psalmist says that God’s law revives the soul, causes the heart to rejoice, and helps us to see clearly. Paul continues with his teaching on spiritual gifts, emphasizing that all members of the body of Christ have an important role. No one can claim to be any more important than anyone else. In Luke, Jesus reads from Isaiah and declares that his messianic ministry will focus on justice, mercy, and healing.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10. When has God’s word overwhelmed you? How did you react?
Read Psalm 19. How do you seek to speak or sing words acceptable to God? How does this shape your life?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a. Within the body of Christ, as within our human bodies, parts compensate for one another. How do you take on more to support the body of Christ when others struggle? How do you allow others to take on your roles when you struggle?
Read Luke 4:14-21. In what ways have you rejected Jesus?
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