The Gospel According to Chandler: When One Part Suffers

Every decade has its most memorable moments in television.

Some of us may remember when little Ricky was born on I Love Lucy. Or when Lucy ate all the chocolate. Or when Lucy crushed the grapes. Or anything associated with the redheaded Lucy.

For the soap opera inclined, there was that big wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital.

More recently, there was the final season of Breaking Bad. Since I know nothing about the show other than it was popular, I don’t know what happened in the series finale. Apparently, though, it was something as “big” and “memorable” as the show itself.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Friends had many such moments. The first post I wrote in this blog series was about the budding romance of Ross and Rachel. Season 2 found them hopelessly in love, and season 3 found them hopelessly annoyed with each other. As memorable as their first kiss was their breakup. As memorable as their breakup was the sudden change in dynamics of the close-knit friends.

The most obviously affected “friend” was Chandler. He started smoking again. Monica, Phoebe, and Joey reprimanded him for resurrecting such an unhealthy habit. When they asked him why, his response was more drama than comedy.

“This is just like my parents’ divorce, when I started smoking in the first place.”

The change in his friends’ relationship reminded him of his parents’ divorce. With the revival of those emotions came his same attempt at coping—the bad habit of smoking. Even though Chandler was not the one “suffering” like Ross and Rachel, their suffering caused him to suffer, too.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (Common English Bible)

When Paul preached to the early Church about their connectedness, he addressed a larger body of “friends.” He had painted for them a timeless metaphor of their gifts being a human body. After describing how their gifts might complement each other, he also reveals how affected they will be by each other. Like Chandler, many of the Corinthians were upset. There was division among them. There was fear of the future. There was reversion to past habits surrounding immorality and idols. To those who were backsliding, Paul sent this warning: your behavior affects more than just you.

In our churches and communities, conflict is inevitable. Disagreements will happen. Some friendships blossom while others deteriorate. We feel the effects of one another’s pain. Another person’s pain reminds us of our own hurts. How do we move forward?

Paul responds with one word: love. The very next chapter is 1 Corinthians 13. This is not a love confined to the romantic love a couple getting married. This is a detailed, complex love that spans brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives….. and friends.

Find a way to love each other even if you are hurting.

Find a way to love even if you have to draw new boundaries.

Find a way to love even if relationships have to change.

Find a way to love.

As Ross and Rachel saw their friends suffering, they realized that they would have to find a way to love each other in a new way. Their friends helped them and each other to do so. With time, Chandler quit smoking again.

In the body of Christ, we can lean on one another to move forward instead of letting each other’s hurts draw us backward.

In the family of God, we can draw from his love to learn how to love each other—even when it hurts.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian