Monday, June 27, 2011

Many Parts

1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

14 Καὶ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα οὐκ ἔστιν ἓν μέλος ἀλλὰ πολλά.

This verse comes in the middle of a chapter on spiritual gifts. We could debate the nature of the various gifts until the cows come home, but there are two things that I think bear mentioning as one consider's 1 Corinthians 12. The first is that the lists of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 are probably not comprehensive. In other words, these are examples of spiritual gifts, but spiritual gifts are not limited to these only. They are representative of what spiritual gifts look like.

The other is something that should certainly be stressed in light of the debate that often rages over this passage. People tend to get lost in the arguments about whether the gifts exist today and how they are manifested that they forget that this verse really speaks to unity in the body. It's ironic that a passage which emphasizes unity could be used to create so much disunity, but that is how Satan works.

God has gifted me in such a way that I am able to preach and teach. I am fairly good at organizing things and am very good at breaking problems down into manageable chunks. However, I am not particularly good at showing mercy. If I was laid up in a hospital room I would not be my first choice to minister to me. There are those who are outstanding at that kind of mercy care, but are not very good preachers. And so on.

The point is that God made us all a little bit differently. Because of the Fall we tend to envy what we don't have. A simple example is women and their hair. I used to work with a woman of Philipino descent who had beautiful thick curly hair. She thought my wife's thinner straight hair was beautiful and she wished that she had it. Meanwhile, my wife thought that her hair was much nicer, though she acknowledged the difficulty in maintaining it. This is a simple, though fairly common example. 

The same thing happens in the church. Rather than being content with how God gifted us we wish that we were like someone else. Here Paul tells us that we all have a part to play in the church and that we should be content with it. The key is to use what God gave us. How are you serving the church?

No comments: