Monday, July 07, 2008

One body, many parts - We're not all the same!

There's no such thing as a cookie cutter Christian. We're simply not all the same... and that's a very good thing!

Looking back to when we first got married, I remember my wife and I doing various things to try to get one another to conform to our own way of doing things. I don't think we did it intentionally. We simply were both used to doing things a certain way, and we didn't think it was right that the other would do things a different way! (Some simple examples: how to do the dishes, how to make the bed, how to fold the clothes, which way the toilet paper went, squeezing the toothpaste from the end or from the top, etc).

As we grew together, we realized that neither of us was wrong in the ways we did certain things. We simply took different approaches to different things. And slowly we took our grips off of trying to control each other in those things. Some issues are of course not so small, and they take a lot more work and compromise, not to mention the key factors of love and grace. But the point is that we can't expect each other to be exactly the same.

It's the same within the body of Christ. There seems to be a lot of "conforming" going on instead of us allowing each other to be who God has made us to be. In 1 Cor 12:12, the Apostle Paul says "the body is one" (or "the body is a unit"), but that doesn't mean every part of the body is the same! He goes on to say that while the body is a unit, "it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."

So we are one body, made up of many different parts. A little later, Paul goes on, "In fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body" (1 Cor 12:18-20).

The ways in which my wife and I respond to different situations within the body... are different! Let's just say there's a disaster, such as the recent flooding that took place here in Iowa. My wife is usually quick to say something like, "I'm going to make a meal for so and so, and I'll see if anyone else wants to do the same and we'll set up a schedule to get meals delivered to the family at different times." My mind goes nowhere near thoughts like that! In those situations, my part in the body has more to do with helping clean up basements or rubble or stuff like that. Other people are really gifted at simply "being there" for people and either offering encouraging words or simply putting their arms around people and remaining quiet, or letting them simply talk about what they've been through. Some people work at trying to help people find places to stay.

Again, the point in all of this is that we're not all the same... and that's a very good thing! Each of us has a unique identity in Christ, and a unique "part" in His body. Who are you?


  1. I love Paul's analogy of a body. As you pointed out, most things things aren't right or wrong. They're just different ways of looking at things.

    I believe finding where we fit in the body is important because others will try to force us into their mold and I know I've been guilty of trying to force them into mine.

    When we all function according to our uniqueness, somehow everything that needs to be done gets done. This goes along with your previous post about not caring what others think. When we get to that place and learn how to just be ourselves and do what's in our heart to do and not care what others think, then we'll begin to see a healthy body growing and functioning.

  2. Aida,

    This is one of my favorite 'subjects' that I don't bring up enough on this blog. We're one body and yet the body is made up of many unique parts. I too love Paul's body analogy. He also uses it in Romans 12 and elsewhere.

    As you say, when we can just be ourselves and let others be who they are, a healthy and growing body is the natural result!

  3. Joel I love this post!

    I think I am a toe, no, maybe a finger. lol! That is so true we were not made to be all the same that is why the body has many parts and all the parts are different and do different things!

    Here's where I see a problem, if all Christians are not all the same and we do different things in the body of Christ and that is how it is supposed to be, than why are there so many conflicts within the body? It really bothers me that most Christians see Father differently and find reason to prove that they are 'doing' and seeing it right?!?!

    Anyway, this is an issue I am currently trying to work out in my head and heart! Just learning to get along with everybody!

    In Freedom, Nicole!

  4. Nicole,

    My experience has been that there are so many conflicts in the body because so many people are trying to get others to conform to their way, instead of allowing others to just be who they are. I commented on Lydia' blog today that one of the problems in the church is that people in "leadership" often think of themselves as the people with the vision, and everyone else is there to help them fulfill their vision. And so people are stuck trying to fulfill someone else's vision and can't be who they are meant to be.

    This is common, of course, to all human relationships. Wherever you go, there are generally people who are trying to get others to conform to their way. It's very egotistical, based upon self rather than based upon a larger body. I'm wanting to shed as much of that as possible. :)