June 19, 2012

1 Corinthians 12:18-20 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve preached and taught on this concept, and I will doubtless do it many times more. People have such difficulty grasping the reality that unity does not mean uniformity. We spend a great deal of time and energy, emotional and otherwise, trying to push and punch people into boxes of all sorts, when that’s not the way we were created. Self-image problems come from people feeling they don’t fit the box that is designated for them. God created us different because that’s how He wants us! However, we are never to use this important truth as an excuse not to grow and improve ourselves. Babies being different and “perfect” doesn’t mean they don’t need to grow! Each individual has a different set of gifts and abilities, and a correspondingly different function, in secular society and in the Body of Christ. Likewise, each individual has a different set of challenges to overcome to become the very best that God intends them to be. One trap here is that being different doesn’t mean we aren’t similar, but being similar doesn’t mean we are the same. We have common needs, the greatest of which being a right relationship with our Creator, abiding in His love through obedience. We are mature when we realize that such obedience isn’t going to mean the same thing for everyone.

Not only do I need to walk this out personally, as a pastor I need to get it through to others. That is a major challenge! In fact, I have come to the firm conviction that it is quite impossible for me, so I’ve got to let the Holy Spirit do it through me. The only one who can properly coordinate the magnificent diversity that is the Church, is God. Peter spoke of believers as living stones, built into God’s house. (1 Peter 2:5) The problem is, too many people visualize that like bricks, which are as close to identical as possible, when actually we are like the magnificent Inca walls that still exist in the Andes, where no two stones are the same, yet they fit so closely you can’t even slip paper between them. I talk about that sort of thing until I’m blue in the face, but intellectual understanding doesn’t equal emotional acceptance. I need to pray for and work patiently with people, so that our rough spots may be ground down with a minimum of anguish until we fit together indeed, each unique but in glorious unity, for the glory of God.

Father, thank You for this word picture. You know who in the church is struggling in which area, and I ask Your grace and mercy for them. Help us all see ourselves and each other as You see us, so that we may interact in love and joy, fulfilling all of Your plans for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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