Dreams that Shape the City / Day 28

BIBLE READING

1 Corinthians 12: 4-14

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. And so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

REFLECTION

God loves the diversity, distinctions and differences among the human race.  He revels in there being different skin colours, dialects, cultures, cuisine, clothing, creativity and sounds.  He could have formed us as clones who all look, behave and speak alike. However, just as there is both unity and diversity within the Trinity itself, so we are created in His image, exhibiting many similarities, but also incredible variation.  This exists in the wider world and it exists in the church.

The church is a community of Jesus followers, the most diverse collective imaginable, made up of men, women and children from every race, background, religion and social status.  The unifying centre of this movement is Christ.  He is the Head, we are His Body.

Paul writes to the Corinthian believers, some of whom it seems were getting a little obsessed with spiritual gifts, and especially the more expressive and visible manifestations of certain gifts.  It appears that some degree of superiority had developed, a subtle arrogance had crept in, among those who considered themselves especially 'spiritual'.  While Paul openly encourages the use of all spiritual gifts, he is at pains to make it explicitly clear that no one spiritual gift is more important or more necessary than any other. They are 'gifts', distributed by the Spirit as He wills, not based on merit, but by grace.  They are not given for personal exaltation but community exhortation and encouragement. Every person and each gift is required if the church is to be complete and fully functioning.  

The simple reality is that there will always be some people, positions and roles within church that are more up-front and public than others.  However, never let us think that greater visibility means greater significance or spirituality; performing or preaching from the platform is no more valuable in God's eyes than those who serve faithfully behind the scenes where few may notice their labour.  In fact, Jesus often applauded those who were faithful in the small and seemingly insignificant, while he rebuked and chastised those who performed religious activity to be seen by others.

As one Body, we are equally valuable, equally needed and equally loved.