UNITY AND DIVERSITY
Dear Father, let the words of joy and truth in the gospel resonate in my heart with new fervor today.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12-31
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] 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. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[b]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink about the gifts others bring to your church and give thanks for these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jewish people longed for the day when God would pour out his Spirit and write the law on people’s hearts, enabling them to do God’s will (Ezekiel 36:26,27). The Corinthian believers were experiencing that reality – but only in part. Paul calls them to live out the Spirit’s presence among them in renewed relationships that reflect the unity in diversity that the Spirit’s varied gifts bring to the church, Christ’s body.
Rather than God giving gifts to individuals for their own benefit, the Spirit’s gifts are to enable and build up the church. These gifts are as diverse as the different parts of a human body, with each part vital to the health of the whole (v 21). The church is like a human body, composed of hands, ears, eyes, a nose, head and feet (vs 15-18). Hence, Paul asks whether everyone has every gift, implying ‘no’ in each case (vs 29,30) – the Spirit deliberately distributes gifts so that every believer is dependent on God’s work through others.
Paul clearly expects believers to be deeply aware of the Spirit’s presence among us, and thus to be community-focused rather than individualistic. How will you ensure that you seek and promote such awareness and community focus in your church?
Find ways to encourage your body of believers to reflect the unity in diversity created by the Spirit’s varied gifts and to seek the Spirit’s equipping for the sake of that community.
Prince of Peace, give me a new awareness of the great dangers of division within our church family. May there be unity as we declare your glory to the world.
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