But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 12: 24, 25

People tend to operate differently than does God. I know that this thought is probably not all that surprising to most of us, for if we have spent any amount of time in a relationship with God and have also traveled through life in human company, we have observed this fact in many ways as it has played out in others and in ourselves. We look toward honor or position achieved as a sign that we should give respect and even deference to a person. Thus, when someone has achieved success or has been granted authority or power, we will grant that individual even more of the same. Although we may grumble, complain, and even struggle against the rule of others, in the end, generally we want to let someone take the responsibility for leading so that we can place blame on them when things go poorly and we can benefit from what goes well. God does things in another way, and He desires to see His people live out our relationships in a manner that is similar to His approach to relating with us.

The Lord seeks to elevate the weak, the disenfranchised, and the outcasts of our world. He desires to bring people who are cast off to the fringes of society into close proximity and engagement with those who are at its center. In Christ, God has provided to the world the common ground upon which we can all stand in an ingathering of races, genders, cultures, and even of belief systems or faiths. Christ calls upon all of us to see more deeply so that we look through the exteriors of others and into their hearts and souls. I think that this is something that we do firstly with those who we should be closest to in the course of our days. That would be our families, neighbors, co-workers, and others who we engage in fellowship with on a regular basis. We can ask the Spirit to show us that deeper worth and greater value that resides within every person created by God in His image. We can begin to see the giftedness that flows out of Christ within each person that we encounter as we consider them from the perspective of our best understanding of how Jesus, Himself, would have viewed that beloved individual.

Seeing the people who are closest to us in the light of Christ’s presence in them and with their giftedness on view may sound like an easy thing to do, but it is much more challenging to live out than it might seem. People are all complex and relating to them is never simple. When we look more deeply into those inner places in a person’s life we are taken into the pain, fears, hopes, dreams, and aspirations that are a part of how we are all constructed by our Creator. Yet, these are the places where we need to go if we are to follow the Lord’s desired plan for the way that His body would exist and flourish in this world. As we care about and then for those who are closest to us, we are trained and empowered to do the same for people who are more distant from us. When the portion of the body of Christ that we are associated with in fellowship is healthy, nurturing, and all-embracing, we have a compelling story to tell and to demonstrate to others who do not know Christ, for it is in Christ that we have learned to truly love, and it is through Christ’s love that we have begun to live in a society that values all people equally and that seeks what is best for everyone without regard to relative strength or weakness or human perceived value and worth. 

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But God has so composed the body giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 12: 24, 25

 

People tend to grant respect and honor to others who have certain skills or who hold positions within our society that we look up to. This is a normal aspect of structure and of order in our world. Granting this sort of deferential view to those who take on responsibility for the well-being of the whole is even a part of God’s plan and design for the way that our cultures can operate smoothly and peacefully. Yet, like so many of the things that we do in our humanity, this holding up of some people for special honor can get our of balance and become troublesome and even divisive.

 

When individuals within the church are held up as superior to others by virtue of their position of authority or due to the role that they fill, damage can be done to the entire organization. Now, I am not saying that we should not respect the authority of leaders that God has called and established in those essential roles. However, I am saying that even these pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, and bishops are not to be held in greater esteem or granted greater respect than are others who may serve the body in less obvious and widely visible ways. In the body of Christ, His church globally and locally, all of us are given gifts by God and each of us is called upon by God to use those gifts for the sake of the functionality and effectiveness of that church and to demonstrate these gifts for Christ’s glory in our world.

 

If you are granted a simple or a humble gift, then use it with confidence and with joy as an offering of yourself to God. If you have been given one of those more public and outwardly noticeable gifts, then hold it as the precious outpouring of Christ’s love upon His body that it actually is, and use this gift in order to focus all praise and honor upon the One who gave this great blessing to you. Each and every one of our spiritual gifts and all of our capacity, skill, and talent is something that God has poured into each person as a part of His careful and purposefully creative crafting of us. We are made to bring the Gospel of Christ into our world in ways that are accessible and real, every person is made in God’s own version of His image for this purpose, and we can each live out our lives at peace with who we are and in the confident expression of our giftedness while we also value and honor the same in all others.