Big idea: The work of the cross through the Spirit brings unity in diversity.
This afternoon, our family was playing in a pillow fort: boys versus girls. Samuel (almost 2 years old) was excited to throw pillows and say "Tak! Tak!"("Attack!"). Anastasia (almost 4 years old) was quick to squeal and call out about how we "have not seen the last of her." She can be a little dramatic. We were playing something which could be called "capture the tiara," but whenever her Mom got it, Anastasia took it back. In a different setting, she might be called a ball hog. 3-year-olds are not known for being team players, which makes it harder on everyone. The problem is that most of us never grow out of it.
In today's reading, Paul uses one of the most famous metaphors of the Bible: the church is a body. As in a body, there are distinct parts which are all part of one life. The different parts complement each other, and the parts that might seem to be weaker are provided greater protection by the rest of the body, which the stronger parts do not need. The question is never whether all the parts of the body are given equal treatment, but whether each part of the body is allowed to thrive. In our body, God put all of the parts together not for the parts but for the whole. Our unity is in our diversity. If our organs were all identical, there would be no body at all. If our organs were all disconnected and independent, there would be no body at all.
The apostle tells us that this is exactly how each church should operate. The one Spirit in each of us manifests His work in different ways, but the message is always the same: Jesus is Lord. No part of the body should be arrogant or humiliated, but should all realize that we need each other. The heart should exercise its gift, the lungs theirs, and so on. When one part of the body hurts, the whole body should hurt. When one part is missing or not pulling its weight, no other part of the body was designed by God to fill that role, and there is a strain. Your church family is not an accident. You were carefully placed in that body by God, with a certain job and a certain design. So let's serve one another, for His glory.
Discussion idea: If you stub your toe, is it possible to say, "Well, that sounds like a toe problem to me."? Is it possible for a healthy church body to have one part that hurts without the whole thing hurting?
Prayer focus: Pray that God would help you to see yourself as a part of the whole, neither arrogant nor despairing, but in the place He chose with the function He made you for.