No matter what church you go to, you will likely hear a great deal about 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the chapter about love. Unfortunately, due to various constraints (not the least of which is contemporary teaching methods) the context of this passage doesn't really get fleshed out very much. So, here’s a question... what comes directly before 1 Cor. 13? (If you said 1 Cor. 12 you’d be correct, but that’s not exactly what I was going for...) Though they are often separated, the 12th chapter of 1 Cor. deals with “spiritual gifts” and the “one Body with many members.” I must admit that I was quite pleasantly surprised to make these connections and though I do not intend to reflect directly on their proximity I felt it was important to mention.
What I really would like to reflect on this week is this idea of “one Body with many members.” This idea calls to mind (at least for me) many sermons about how each individual person is called to a specific task in the Kingdom of God. In most church contexts where I have heard such messages there is a recurringly prevalent theme: We must work together in order to function as the Body of Christ and my function isn't necessarily the same as yours... However, we are all meant to serve a certain purpose. Of course it’s our job to figure out whether we’re a finger or an eye or an appendix. (this, I suppose, is where spiritual giftings come in to play)
I recently heard a sermon where the speaker exhorted the church he was visiting that they were only functioning at 60% of their capacity. He said that there were people who needed to be encouraged to step out into their designed function as members of the Body of Christ. This got me thinking... What if that church had three fingers among it’s “members” but the other finger and thumb attended the Catholic church down the road and the palm attended the Lutheran church across the river? No matter how hard those three fingers in the first church try to work effectively together, they will never be able to perform as a fully functional hand. In Acts 10.34 St. Peter states that God is no respector of persons. Now I realize that within the Scriptural context, the Apostle is referring to cultural phenomena that ran much deeper than denominational separations, however, I think this concept is still applicable. God cares very little for our human disputes. He deems it fit to use whomever He wills and pays much less attention to which congregation one attends than we do as humans.
What does all this mean? Basically, it means that I need you, and you need me. We cannot function properly as a Body without each other. It is my opinion that God places strategically every person necessary for His Kingdom to function with 100% efficacy in a given location. However, I don’t think He pays very much mind to our grievances towards each other. This is not to say that we should throw our differences out the window and just all pretend we’re happy with the compromise. This is why the unity of the faithful is so important. Christ is building His Church and the Kingdom is being proclaimed on earth, however, the Kingdom is compromised and cannot function in fullness when we cannot see our need for each other. We each have something to offer... and we all are missing out because for some reason we can’t seem to realize that.