“Would who she was—who she really was—be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest a risk that any of us will take: to be seen as we truly are.”
With that phrase Disney’s most recent Cinderella (2015) distanced itself from the animated version of my childhood. I watched as the unloved stepdaughter emerged from the attic, coming face to face with the prince of her dreams and the memory of her night of escape. She didn’t know if the glass slipper in his hands would fit without her fairy godmother’s spell. Would her deepest longings come true? Or would the magic be lost—forever?
We can empathize with Cinderella’s gamble: It is risky. What if others see who we really are deep down inside? Will they see our struggles and oddities and decide we’re more trouble than we’re worth? Will they catch a glimpse of our insecurities and walk away before they are entangled in our issues?
Will we be enough to keep them from turning away?
Two Lies, One Answer
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the one-ness of the Christian community by comparing it to the human body. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it,” he wrote (1 Corinthians 12:27). Even as he paints this picture, though, he anticipates two objections that can cripple our own communities.
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should 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…But 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 parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).
What if the foot decides it isn’t “good enough” to belong to the body? Will it cease to be a part of it? Of course not. The foot is a body part, no matter how firmly it believes it shouldn’t be. “I’m not good enough to belong,” the lie echoes in our head. But Paul leaves no room for self-pity. Whatever our shortcomings, each believer can honestly say to the rest of the church as a whole: “I am part of you.”
“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.”…But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
Now Paul flips the coin. Where would the head be without the feet? How could the eye accomplish tasks—or even be nourished—without the hand? In the church of God there is no room for anyone to say (or think), “You’re not good enough to belong.” We are joined together, and we can truthfully say to every child of God: “You are part of me.”
But what if we don’t feel good enough to be a part of the community Paul describes? I know how easy it is to cave to the mirage of needing to impress or fit in. I feel the pull of wanting to be noticed, or recognized as part of the group. I know I am not the only one to have that nagging thought, If they really knew me, would they still like me?
I mean, if even Cinderella could doubt herself, it’s no surprise the rest of us sometimes feel our inadequacy lurking beneath the surface. Am I—who I really am—good enough?
Paul doesn’t say here that we are a family, though we are (Ephesians 2:19-22). This analogy is even deeper, closer: Here we are a body. All of us—together. One. In Paul’s (God-inspired) opinion, we live and act and worship and exist as one.
How? We are weak. We get tired. We often seem mismatched or even at odds with one another. It’s no secret: we are not good enough.
But that’s okay. In spite of our insufficiencies, God is able to make us one. And He did.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law…that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:14-18).
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ abolished the old law and created a new man. He made peace, reconciling us to and providing access to God the Father. This is where our hope is found! Not in our performance or successes (or lack of them), but in His power and sacrifice. No matter how inadequate we feel, we are secure because our acceptance with God has been fully provided for, both in eternity and in this life.
Here is a far greater guarantee than a glass slipper.
Not one of us has it all figured out. Not one of us is without failures and very real problems. But as we lower our masks, seek out our Father, and reach out to the brothers and sisters He has brought to us, we will discover—together—the reservoir of strength He knew we would so desperately need.
The essence of Christianity is that we are not good enough, either in our relationships or in anything else. In our natural, hopeless condition alienated from the love of our Maker, we know that to be seen as we truly are is to be seen in our poverty and the nakedness that we can never escape.
But the beauty of the gospel is that our depravity was met and conquered at the cross. Where we are lacking, Christ is enough. When we have nothing to offer in our defense, He has already given everything in our stead. And when the curtain rises and our facades melt away, when the earth is dissolved and all can see who we really are, we will stand confident and victorious. Not because we eventually reach some level of sufficiency, but because He is—and forever will be—enough.