You’re Feeding Me What?!?
If it were up to my two oldest boys, their entire diet would consist of a few staple foods. While the oldest is a carnivore, my 7-year old is a self-proclaimed “cheese-etarian,” wanting some form of the substance at every meal. For many kids their age, diversity in the area of food is cause for concern and deep suspicion – I cannot count the number of times I’ve received the look that says: “Are you trying to poison me with that vegetable?!?”
Unfortunately, when it comes to our life in community, we often fail to grow out of that mentality. Historically, one of the great shortcomings of the Church has been our tendency to be uncomfortable with (and often, outright reject) the “new” or “different.” For us, the idea that many different parts should contribute to the one Body is often an admired idea, but a very real challenge to put into practice.
Yet I am convinced that all of scripture points to God’s desire for unity in diversity, and that this was his plan from the very beginning. The variety that results in the act of Creation testifies to the beauty and harmony of God’s intention for this life together. The very idea of creativity demands new ideas, diversity, and inspiration.
The first cracks in God’s Story come when humans reject the role that they are created to fulfill. They want to play at the role of Creator, when they are the image of the Creator – a deeply connected, yet distinct function. Rather than being reflectors of God, they aspire to be gods themselves, with devastating consequences.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to a Christian community with some serious unity issues. This is partly because a sizable group within the church desire to have the type of roles that will bring them the most honor, power, and spiritual prestige. In correcting this, Paul offers a picture of what real Kingdom community looks like by using a familiar analogy. In many ways, this image reflects a vision of what a return to the shalom depicted in Genesis 1-2 would look like. Just like a human body, the different parts of the church should embrace their specific gifts (1 Corinthians 12). This is possible through the empowerment and guidance of the Holy Spirit. There simply is not room for jealousy, factions, or feelings of spiritual superiority in a healthy community, especially if that community is meant to reflect a renewed and restored Creation. We are called to model for the world the kind of profound impact of the cross on our relationships. Allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in embracing our own unique gifts and callings, and supporting and encouraging the different gifts of others is one vital way in which we can live out our faith in a world that desperately needs the Hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Holly Carey, Professor of Biblical Studies
Pray for the unity of believers at Point University, in your church community, and across the globe.