"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." (1 Cor. 12:12 NIV)

Why is there so much disunity in the church? With unity being so near and dear to Jesus' heart that it appeared four times (see John 17:11, 20-24) in His last recorded prayer before going to the cross, shouldn't it be near and dear to our hearts as well?

But wait. The church is made up of so many different types of people. Some are true believers, some are not. Everyone is of a different culture, and our skins are so many different colours. We all have our preferences. We all come from different socioeconomic levels. How can something as diverse as truly become "one body"?

The answer is simple: "For we were all baptized by 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." (1 Cor. 12:13 NIV)

The one "common thread" so to speak is God's Spirit. This doesn't mean that we all look or think or act the same. In fact, that will never be: "Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many." (1 Cor. 12:14 NIV). What it means is that when we are filled with God's Spirit, our differences won't matter, and we will be able to work together as one.

In fact, the secret to the church's strength and functionality actually lies in our diversity: "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...If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?...But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." (1 Cor. 12:15, 17-18 NIV. See also vs. 16).

The truth is, the body would not be able to function properly without its diverse, individual parts: "If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." (1 Cor. 12:19-20 NIV)

I am so saddened by the fact that we have segregated church congregations. Why do all the members of a congregation need to have the same culture or colour skin? Or why do they all need to be middleclass or citizens of good standing? Why can't we let the outcasts in? When we discourage someone from attending our church or treat them as if they are substandard, we are, in essence, saying we don't need them. Yet Paul tells us, "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!'" (1 Cor. 12:21-22 NIV)...

What if that person we don't think belongs in our congregation is actually someone who is vital to the functioning and testimony of our church? What if they can encourage and bless on a different level than anyone else, because they are different?

Consider Paul's words: "On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable...But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." (1 Cor. 12:22-25 NIV)

Let's remember this all important truth: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Cor. 12:26-27 NIV)

One of the many thousands of things that fascinated me on my recent once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia was the leaves on the tree. I would note that the leaves of many were actually made up of thousands of tiny, tiny leaves, all bunched together in what would appear as one leaf.

Isn't this the way our churches should appear? Shouldn't we live so much in unity that no one sees our individual parts, but only the beauty of the church as a whole? Shouldn't we be so supportive and caring, shouldn't we each carry out our individual roles in such a way that we appear as one? Then, just like those leaves in Australia, outsiders would have to look closely to see that we are, in fact, individuals making up the whole.

Think about what kind of message this would send to the world at large: "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21 NIV).

Prayer: Father God, may we see the true value of each other. May we stop judging and setting racial and cultural boundaries in our churches. May we be one, so that the world may believe that You sent Jesus!

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.