UNITED THROUGH THE SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 12:4–14
There is a certain establishment whose sole industry is selling cookies. Each week they feature various kinds of cookies. The consumer does not know ahead of time what the new week will bring. When you walk in the door you are greeted by a friendly “Welcome!” and the sweet aroma of large ovens full of baking cookies. It would be difficult to frown in this place. They even have cold milk you can purchase. That is a good business model!
I know the church is not a business and should not function like one, but there are some things we can learn from the cookie company. Paul repeats the word “varieties” and the theme of diversity in our Bible study. Like the cookie shop, our churches should be filled with a variety of people, gifts and talents. A church will reach its full potential only when the beauty of diversity is recognized and utilized.
My favorite cookie is the oatmeal raisin, and my largest contribution to the local church is preaching and teaching. That is my combination. What is yours? Chocolate chip and singing? Peanut butter and children’s ministry? Each contribution is equally important and needed to reach our communities and honor the Lord.
The Holy Spirit works through every believer for a singular common good. (4–7)
A common mistake churches make is confusing the difference between conformity and uniformity. The true beauty of any church is discovered when the purpose is clearly defined and delegated to include all members of the body. We are not all called to do the same work, but we are called to the same result: serving each other and bringing people to Jesus.
When you conform, your individuality is lost. In uniformity, your uniqueness is celebrated and relates to others to accomplish a goal. This reflects how wonderful God the Creator is. He wires us each differently but supernaturally. Only He can bring us together to make the mosaic complete.
The Holy Spirit works through us in different ways toward that common good. (8–11)
Who decides where you serve in the church? The answer should be the Holy Spirit. Yes, I am aware of the work of nominating and personnel committees. Their role in most churches is essential. In a larger sense, these committees should simply notice the gifts and talents of others and provide them an avenue for ministry. Pastor Tony Evans is credited for saying, “The Holy Spirit has created our unity. It is our job to preserve it.” In an increasingly divisive world, the local church should be a model of cooperation.
The Holy Spirit makes us one body. (12–14)
The church is to be free from competition within the membership. No one member is more important than another. A person’s heritage, personality, or financial or educational standing should not be reasons to elevate the status of anyone in a church. It is God’s church; ask Him to rule over it.
Through His atoning death, Christ has earned the privilege of being the head of the Church. With Christ as head, our opinions, preferences and wills are secondary to the words and teaching of Jesus. The remarkable thing about a body is when one part is affected, the body responds. A church should laugh, cry, celebrate and work together. This is one of the many reasons we call ourselves a church family. Even better, try to be a church full of cookies — warm and sweet!
By Bobby McKay
Pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi