In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul presents an idea of God’s design for the church: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it,” he said.
God created a system of interdependence. If one part of the human body suffers — like, say, a bone gets broken — all the other parts are affected. Within the Body of Christ, it is the same. At least, it is supposed to be the same. We cannot escape the reality that we belong to one another, that we each fit together.
I am the pastor at two churches. Each is unique, but has the same purpose. Ultimately, we strive to achieve the joy of knowing and worshipping God; to exercise the privilege of sharing Jesus Christ and his teachings with others; and to share our Lord’s hospitality with God’s children, whether they are a part of our congregations or not.
These two churches have one purpose but diverse methods. That’s because the two congregations comprise people with different skills and abilities.
It is the same for all of our Lord’s churches, regardless of denomination or the congregation's composition. We are one in purpose, but diverse in our methods.
When the Body of Christ as a whole is functioning well in design, diversity and display, it is something to behold! This is what Christians around the world should strive for. Remember: There are numerous traditions because there are different parts to the Body of Christ.
This does not mean that because someone does something differently they — or we — are wrong. We are all simply different parts of the same body. We have different gifts and different functions.
God is marvelous! In his wisdom he permits diverse denominations to allow for different styles of worship, different avenues of thought and different ways of speaking to people’s hearts to meet the multitude of different personalities and cultures.
Unfortunately, some people feel they must take issue with others, which causes dissension among the body. It’s like acid reflux that causes heartburn, which keeps a person focused on the discomfort and pain instead of being able to enjoy a meal or conversation. The focus gets skewed, and the greater good is missed.
Yes, there are different parts of the body, but they all function together for the good of the whole.
The human body is a miracle of God’s engineering, different parts all working together for the common good.
The Body of Christ is a miracle of God’s engineering: diverse, different, distinctive and striving to convey the message of God’s love, grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.