How diverse is the body of Christ?

Every week the pastor who preaches writes a follow up devotional for some additional study or reflection.  This is my last sermon and the devotional that goes with it.

Read Romans 12:3-8

I love the picture of the church as the body of Christ.  Each one of us is unique in our calling, gifting, and passions.  We each have a distinct role to play so that the body can fully function.  There is no hierarchy of body parts, just many parts, submitted under the headship of Jesus, working together for His purposes and glory.  

When we start to think of ourselves as more highly than we ought, when we put ourselves above others, our passions and desire above others, forget that we submit to Jesus, or forget that we live for the glory of Jesus and not ourselves, we become fractured and minimize our impact on the Kingdom of God.  As Christians who have been around the church for a while, this is not a new or revolutionary concept.  We work hard to keep this perspective and live in unity within our churches.  But could this picture be extended to the larger Church with a capital "C."

What I mean by this is can each church, each denomination bring with it their own unique passions, giftings and callings and be used by the headship of Jesus to run after a unique and specific ministry.  On the surface, many of us would say, "YES!"  But how we live, talk about, and interact with these other parts of the body of Christ would say, "NO!"

We all think our local church, our denomination, our theological tribe is the best and most important, and purest part of the body of Christ.  What an arrogant statement!  We have made a lifestyle out of clarifying why our part of the body of Christ is the best and right and why people should stay away from other parts of the body of Christ.  

What if we changed our approach and put into practice what we do individually, but expanded that globally.  Instead of trying to make everyone like me, I long to be the healthiest version of my unique contribution to the body, and am encouraged and challenged by the parts of the body that are different than me.  Maybe we could see other churches, denominations, and grouping of Christians with this same sort of generosity.  

Each local congregation, each denomination has gathered a unique grouping of people called to do a unique ministry.  The Episcopal church in the heart of San Francisco has a different calling than the non-denominational megachurch in Kansas.  The Pentecostal church with its exuberant worship and expectation for the Holy Spirit to bring healing and wholeness to a broken community has a different calling than the little bible church filled with families who have been doing life together for generations.  

I think it would be an interesting discipline to see the larger church as the Body of Christ and to recognize that we are unique in our callings and passions, but we still BELONG to one another.  We belong to the Episcopal open and affirming church, we belong to the Pentecostal church, we belong to the country Bible church, and to the mega-church down the road.  Even more so we belong to the house churches in China, the Brazilian church, the Sub-Saharan Africa church, the Greek Orthodox church, and every other grouping of believers who profess their faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ. 

Let us strive for local, community, and global unity.  Let us belong to one another, and let us prove to the world that we are truly followers of Jesus Christ because we are one, just as the Father and Son are one!  And may everything we do give glory and honor to Jesus Christ!

Amen!