Last week, taking our daughter to Detroit, Michigan for her flight to Mexico, we drove through the construction on Huron-Church Road up to Windsor's Ambassador Bridge. Each time you go by, the work has progressed in one way or another but this time the method of its progression is what struck me. To the left: 3 guys working on the side of a bridge - which currently ends in midair. On the right: a backhoe digging all on its own. Far up the side, along the new sound barrier, 5 workers planting trees. Cement trucks pouring concrete to the right. Dump trucks hauling loads on the left. Two guys standing further along in the mess, measuring something it seems. Sitting by their lunch boxes, a few men take a break. The magnitude of the entire project is incredible and I shake my head. From my point of view, it all looks disjointed: different workers at different jobs and a distance of 11 kilometers separating one end of the project to the other. How on earth can anyone know what is going on? But amazingly enough, someone does! Someone high up there has the plans and knows how it's all going to work out to a final completed highway straight to the bridge.
And under the CEO of this great project, each worker is doing his specific task. Not everyone pours the cement. Not everyone plants the trees. Not everyone digs the holes. But all are working together for the final completion.
In writing to the Roman believers, Paul talked about something similar but using a different analogy: the body. All true Christians are like one body in Christ. However, just as a physical body has different members, each with their own specific job, the body of Christ functions in the same way. Romans 12:4-8 says,
For as we have many members in one body,
and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ,
and every one members one of another.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy
according to the proportion of faith;
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering:
or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:
he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity;
he that ruleth, with diligence;
he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
One body in Christ, many members, different gifts.
Gifts differing according the grace of God!
Paul writes to the Corinthians using the same analogy,
For the body is not one member, but many.
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?
If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members
every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body?
But now are they many members, yet but one body.
1 Corinthians 12:14, 17-20
If the whole body were an eye, how would we hear? If the whole body were an ear, how would we smell? It sounds rather obvious and comical when considered in this way, but the same is true in relation to the church.
Paul continued his thoughts by asking,
Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers?
are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing?
do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12:29-30
The answer is an obvious "No".
God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
Our God loves variety. Creation all around us proves that fact.
Not all preach. Not all teach. Not all are given to hospitality. Not all evangelize in the same way. Not all do as I do! Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...
Each different activity in the church is not, need not, and should not be the exercise of everyone. And yet, the work of each member is to be appreciated and valued by the others. All members of the body using their God-appointed gifts are important and necessary!
Have we noticed others lately? Have we appreciated the ability and work of other members in the body of Christ?
Earlier this year, a friend surprised me with a container full of muffins and a note. "For all that you are and all that you do. Thank you." So simple. And I was so touched. (The note is still on my dresser mirror.) Someone just stopped and noticed. Have we done so lately? Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing for the Lord, (and even pridefully thinking that our work is the most important), that we don't take the time to notice others.
Hebrews 10:24 says, "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works". Look carefully around at the other members of the body of Christ and take time to appreciate and encourage. Let us avoid the wrong thinking that all members should be helping in what we're involved in, and on the other side, let us not look around desiring a gift that God has given to another. May there be no division in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another (1 Corinthians 12:25).
Just like those construction workers, each doing their part, let us press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). May we prayerfully consider what God would have us do for Him as workers together with him (2 Corinthians 6:1). Perhaps this hymn will be an encouragement to you as it has been to me.