A preacher, a paramedic, and a post-mortem practitioner (also known as a mortician), went hiking together…. (Use your imagination and finish the story!). Actually, they did! I took my neighbor, a paramedic, and our funeral home director, on a hike a couple weeks ago. Both of them are believers and we had a great time of fellowship and a very rigorous hike along the edge of the Cabinet Wilderness. We come from quite different backgrounds, with different training (although the mortician did pastor a church for several years), and abilities. Each of us has areas of strengths and weaknesses, and I guess among us we had most of the “bases covered” no matter what happened!
I couldn’t help but think about how God has put together His Body, called the Church, made up of believers from a great variety of backgrounds, nationalities, training, and giftedness. He assembles them in small groups called local churches (at least where they are allowed to assemble as such). God made it such that we need each other, by making an infinite variety of personalities, natural talents, and then providing spiritual gifts at the time of our salvation. Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers who were struggling with their diversity: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom….another faith… distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body…For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body….But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (I Cor. 12:7-22).
In His wisdom, God designed the human body with many members—a head, ears, arms, feet, eyes, etc.—such that the body could perform many amazing functions. All the parts of the body are necessary for the body to function properly. No one part is better than another. But if the members start working against each other rather than together, our body becomes dysfunctional. Well, the same is true for a church. God desires that “there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (I Cor. 12:25). He wants for there to be unity through the diversity, not division and strife, as was being experienced in the church at Corinth (I Cor. 3:1-4). In writing to the believers at Ephesus, Paul again listed some of God’s gifts to the church and says they are “for the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ…we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).
Just as some parts of our physical body are more visible and receive more attention, yet are dependent upon every other part of the body to function, so in Christ’s body, some members have more visible roles but are dependent on every other member of the body. There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ. Many years ago an accomplished organist was giving a concert. (In those days someone had to pump large bellows backstage to provide air for the pipes.) After each song, the audience applauded heartily. Before his final number, the organist stood and said, “I shall now play…” and he announced the title. He sat down and adjusted his music. With feet poised over the pedals and hands over the keys, he began with a mighty chord. But the organ remained silent. Just then a voice was heard from back stage: “Say ‘We’!” “
The Holy Spirit helps us to excel in what we do best, but a self-sufficient spirit that overlooks the contributions of others can ruin it all. No Christians have ever climbed the ladder of success alone. We should be grateful for the vital role others play in any successes or accomplishments we may have. A quarterback of a football team, no matter how talented, will not be successful without a good offensive line to protect him. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had an interesting rule for his teams. Whenever a player scored, he was to acknowledge the person on the team who had assisted. He saw the importance of teaching his players that they were a team—not “just a bunch of independent operators.” Each person contributed to the success of everyone else. That’s how the church is also to function, with every member exercising his/her spiritual gifts for the good of the body and doing it for the glory of God—not their own. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you don’t care who gets the credit!
A fellow member of the Body,