The Christian church is perhaps the most international, varied body of people in the whole world. We are in every nation, and we are called to speak the good news of Jesus Christ to every person alive.
Verse 18 indicates, our diversity is God’s plan for the church. God has given us many types of gifts, ministries and points of view. However as human nature is in a fallen selfish, immature state, we have to guard against the danger of excluding different groups. Examples of these are differing preferred theological positions, nation groups, age groups or interests. Sometimes, there is a danger people become so focused on their own point of view, ministry, personality traits or theological position that they begin to despise others. Paul describes this situation in his analogy in verses 15 onwards. People with for example, pastoring (or other gifts) prioritise this ministry and may not be so focused on other important ministries. We need to be aware of this tendency in ourselves. We need to be respectful of different people with different giftings from God and different emphases’ and points of view. This is a challenge for church leadership as they guide the church and equip the saints in the performance of the ministries of God that build His Kingdom. Paul discusses this using a body analogy. In verse 15 feet need to be respectful of hands, ears should value their contribution as much as eyes. Ears are made by God, just as much as eyes. Prophets are as valued as teachers and pastors and administrators. The theologian is valued equally as those with gifts of hospitality and kindness. The hospitality team and teachers and pastors are equally esteemed in the eyes of God. The youth and the evergreen are of equal value. Verse 13 states those of one culture or nation are as loved by God as those of any other. We are not to be racist. The very next chapter is about loving people.
In verse 25 Paul makes clear God has a plan for how we are combined with one another:
“so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
We need to know what the heart of God is for our church, for the combination of different giftings, points of view and ministries. The church is a multi-gifting church. We need to be prayerful, knowledgeable of the word of God, able to get alongside people, hospitable, outward-focused and loving towards all He has made. We need to be organised as well as pastoral, prophetic as well as practical. We require to be concerned for good order in the church and outward-focused in how we present Jesus to those around us.
Verse 26 makes clear when our brothers and sisters suffer, we suffer too, when they are honoured we too are honoured. We are to be one with each other under Christ.
We are all connected to each other, just like the different parts of a body.
Suggested prayer: Father God, we pray for Your anointing to love our brothers and sisters. We pray You enlarge our vision so by Your Spirit we honour, love and support our brothers and sisters in Christ in the unity of our faith. May we be united in Christ Jesus so the Kingdom of God increases around us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.