Our bodies are uniquely designed and composed of many parts. We have eyes, arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a nose. We have joints, ligaments, bones, and tendons. We have organs, cells, and muscles. In order for our bodies to be healthy, we must have all of these components working together harmoniously.
In the same way, the church (body of Christ) is made up of diverse members. In order for the body to be healthy, the members must be working together in mutual submission to one another and to the head of the body, which is Christ. The church should have an “every member ministry (Merida, Ephesians).”
I previously began a short series of posts titled “Three Marks of a Healthy Church.” In my previous post (you can find it here), I recaptured Paul’s heart that the body of Christ must be spiritually unified as demonstrated through the first 6 verses of Ephesians 4. In verses 7-12 of Ephesians 4, Paul outlines another mark of a healthy church: we are united by diversity. Diversity serves to unify the body of Christ by promoting mutual dependence, humble service, and the building up of one another.
Paul says, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift (v.7).” We see from this verse that every member of the body of Christ has been gifted by Christ. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe the unique gifts of individuals within a church. We can look around and see the gifts of others. We can also sense the way in which Christ has uniquely gifted us.
There is a temptation to avoid here, however. If we’re not careful, we may be tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Or, conversely, we may be tempted to think of ourselves lower than we ought. We may be tempted to think that we are better than others because we possess a unique gift that others don’t. On the other hand, we may be tempted to think that because we don’t possess a certain gift that others have, we are less important to the overall health of the body.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m not gifted like others, therefore, I’m of no use here?” Or, “I wish I was like so-and-so”? Have you ever thought that you were less valuable to the body because you don’t possess the same gifts as those that are on the stage or behind the pulpit? According to Scripture, that’s a lie from Satan to be avoided.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says,
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (1 Cor. 12:14-20).”
The gifts believers possess are divinely handed down to them by Jesus Christ. This reality should remove any sort of strife, rivalry, or sadness from the life of the church. Instead of being envious of others’ gifts, may we be encouraged that Christ graciously bestowed upon us according to the measure of His gift.
Further, this reality highlights the mutual dependency within the members of the church. A hand doesn’t compose the entirety of the body, neither does an ear. Every member must be relying on one another for the overall health of the body. We must understand that the Lord has gifted each member uniquely and we, personally, need everyone’s giftedness for our own edification. Thus, we must ask ourselves if we are dependent on the body. Are we relying on the body as a whole for health? Or, as hands, do we only spend time with other hands? As limbs, are we only associating with other limbs? These are tough questions but understanding Paul’s point leads to gospel harmony within the congregations.
Again, this point cannot be stressed enough: you have been given a gift. Understanding that you have been a recipient of divine gifting should remove any sort of pride in that gift. We must humbly recognize that we were not deserving of any gift, but the Lord has graciously bestowed this upon us.
Paul says, “Therefore, it says, ‘when he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (v.8).’” Paul is paraphrasing Psalm 68, which is a triumphant psalm. It speaks of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death. And what did Christ do? He gave men gifts. Therefore, we must be givers of the gift that we have been graciously given. Christians are not to be idle consumers, but eager servants. Yet, how often is idleness characteristic of our lives? How often are we tempted to sit back and simply consume without ever giving a thought to how we can be used to serve the body of Christ. As was stated above, the church should have an “every member ministry.”
Building Up One Another
The aim of the body is to be healthy and holy. We are a people called by God to live in a covenant relationship together, reflecting the holiness of our Lord and Savior. We are called to love one another and to encourage one another. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16).”
The Christian life was never meant to be lived in isolation. The Bible knows nothing of a rogue Christian. We are expected to be a part of a body, knowing and being known by others, loving and being loved by others, edifying and being encouraged by others. This is for our good. This is for our sanctification. There are times when we need to take our brothers/sisters to Jesus and there are times when we need to be taken to Jesus by others. This is a good thing. This is biblical. We must reject the idea that we don’t need the body and the body doesn’t need us. We need each other if we are to be who God has called us to be in Christ.
There is plenty more that could be said on this topic of diversity within the body of Christ. But I leave you with these questions. First, how has the Lord gifted you? If you are unsure of that, speak to others in your body. They will be able to point out the giftedness that they see in you and can help you identify those gifts. Second, how will you apply that giftedness to the body of Christ?
In all things, let us be thankful for the gracious giftedness of our Lord, and may we seek to edify the saints within the body of Christ, for the praise of His glory. The world around us prides itself on individualism, pride, and arrogance. The world is no stranger to division and strife. May it marvel at the unity we possess, even in our diversity.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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