Short Meditations on the Body of Christ: 10. The Interacting Body
1 Cor 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
In the previous study we were saying, know yourself and be yourself, but there is an inherent danger in that and we need to confront it because, as the apostle Paul was saying to the Corinthians, we are many members, many different members, but we are still all one body. There are two things to particularly note in this area.
First, it is recognising my individuality, I also need to recognise the individuality of all the other members. So often we think, ‘if only everybody was like me life would be good’, but the truth is, they’re not! Let’s take the example of someone with evangelistic gifting. So often such a person thinks that the only thing the church should be doing is evangelism and so lays guilt on those who are not so gifted. Then you have the prayer warriors, the intercessors for whom there is nothing so important as prayer, and ‘we should all be spending all our time in prayer.’ Or there is the person with the gift of mercy who cannot see why the church is so slow in picking up on the poor and needy in and around the church. And as for those with their heads in the Bible, they bemoan the fact that the church is full of so many Bible-illiterates! And so it goes on.
What is the lesson here? Obviously, we are all different and we need to rejoice in and celebrate those differences and allow ourselves to be stirred by those with a different passion from ours. Ideally we would all be witnesses for Christ who rely on him in prayer, feed on his word and be sensitive to the needy around us (just to pick up on those passions above – there are others).
But to expand on that a bit more, the second thing is that we need to complement and support one another in our different gifting with different passions. As a church leader I always said to my people, “If you sense a direction for your gifting from God, tell us and we will support you and do whatever we can to enable you to fulfil that gifting. If it is the gift of God, then it will flourish. If it is just the enthusiasm of the moment (I thought I was called to help kids on drugs after reading the Cross and the Switchblade as a young Christian – I wasn’t!) then it will not produce fruit and sooner or later will just evaporate away.”
Instead of feeling threatened by the differences we see in people, we need to be encouraging and blessing them so that we are each able to fulfil the gifting God has given us and be fruitful in it. So often churches launch off on ‘campaigns’ without, instead, looking to see the gifting they have within the flock and encouraging and blessing that.