One Body, Many Parts

by Haley

This is the fourth post in a five part series inspired by the book of 1 Corinthians and my studies of that book. Posts appear here and on my personal blog. Read the previous posts in the series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

This Body.

Oh, this Body.

The beauty of this Body.

The diversity of this Body.

Would this Body be as beautiful without all its diversity?

Would this Body accomplish much were it all made of the same two or three parts?

My heart shouts a joyful, “no!” This Body is beautiful because it is different. Because seemingly disparate parts come together in harmony and make beautiful music, create beautiful images of God for all the world to see and hear and taste and touch and smell.

But what about when we come together and instead of harmony there is dissonance?

A harsh word here, a doctrinal position there, and suddenly hands that once clapped together in joy are balled into fists looking to do some damage, and a mouth that once grinned ear-to-ear grimaces and spits words of hate. And suddenly we are at odds with one another. We are dividing into factions, planting churches that “do church differently,” and vowing we won’t be like those Christians.

But this Body is no different than it was all those years ago on Pentecost when tongues of flame first alighted on foreheads and Peter preached the first sermon as the Holy Spirit filled him up to overflowing.

The right hand might not speak to the left any more, but they are still hands connected to wrists, joined to arms that hang on the right and left side of the same body they always have. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

One Spirit.

One Body.

The fact that we are different does not mean we should divide into factions and attempt to manage the Gospel separately. And often we divide because we believe the division will be easier than staying together.

But what if it is not?

What if these divisions only ever make it more difficult?

If we were always and only ever supposed to work together, then how much harder have we made it by attempting to divide something that was never supposed to be anything other than a single unit?

Many parts, yes, absolutely, and of course.

But only ever one Body.

Does division make it easier or harder to preach the Gospel and live out your faith?
What makes you want to leave the Body, or to join up with a different part of the Body of Christ?
What makes you want to stay?

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2 Responses to “One Body, Many Parts”

  1. Aaron January 25, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    A lot of our problems with division and unity come from the fact that quite often I don’t think we are doing any gospel work in our churches. We get together once a week with people whom we really only identify with because we share the same preferences for how we ‘do’ church and many times we are quite sure our preferences are the right way to do it. There are many people in my church who do stress me out, and sometimes I think the Pastor is wrong. I am also quite sure that I stress others out and that I am sometimes wrong. These things are not easy to deal with. However, they are generally overcome when I am working together with others in my church doing some work for the gospel. We find something to unite in, our divisions are subordinated by the unity of serving others and God in our work, in our worship. There are things worth fighting over but there are a lot of things that require us to work together. That’s what keeps me in my local church, there is a tension, certainly, but there is some role for me to play and at times find unity beyond our personal preferences because we aren’t just focused on differences when we are doing some Kingdom work, submitting ourselves in true worship.

  2. Diana Trautwein January 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I used to rail against denominationalism, thinking it to be a sign of our brokenness and unholy ability to sever relationships rather than work on them. And then I began to notice something. Different denominations, different worship styles, different sizes of community, different avenues for gospel work – well, they somehow appeal to the differences between people. Therefore they speak to people where they are and how they are. Like the tongues of flame on Pentecost – each one speaking a different language, only intelligible to those of that language group. There is good in diversity, much good. Of course, when real trouble starts brewing in one section of the body, then sometimes the rest of the body sends antibodies to heal the infection. Sometimes we have to do that, too, and it’s not fun at all. But there is truth to old adage (maybe not so old?) – different strokes for different folks. :>) Please understand, I’m not arguing here for homogeneity, building walls that exclude or any other form of separatism or rancor based division. I am just observing that the Spirit of God works in wondrous and various ways to build the Body of Christ – and it can be beautiful.

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