In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made this startling, but factual statement:
“11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week.”
Dr. King decried the segregation he saw in the body of Christ; the very body that should be all-inclusive and integrated by grace… not separated by race.
But is it really that big of a deal? What would the Bible have to say about that?
The Apostle Paul tells us it takes many parts to make the whole body:
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Cor 12:12 NLT)
Though Paul is primarily describing gifts and abilities in this context, the thing we often overlook is that some of those gifts and abilities that are so essential for the body of Christ to function may be found in people who have decided to have nothing to do with each other!
This body of Christ Paul describes is all those who believe, regardless of race, color, creed, etc… And if we’re honest, few of us think about having diversity present in the body of Christ.
But we should.
Consider this: if someone is born missing part of their body, do we consider that normal? No… they have “birth defects.” These are the cases where Doctors and parents discuss options, and debate whether or not the child will be able to have a “normal” life. In some cases, there are discussions of how long this child might live because they are incomplete.
But in the body of Christ, a body designed to live forever, there are no birth defects. There are only self-induced amputations.
They happen when we exclude other believers because they don’t look like us, or talk like us, etc…. And that’s not normal, it’s strange!
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!” (1 Cor 12:18–19 NLT)
Even some of our common figures of speech point to this principle.
- When someone is awkward in handling things, we say they are “all thumbs.”
- When someone is clumsy on their feet, we say they have “two left feet.”
These sayings point out how sameness actually decreases our ability to function as a body. And it’s no different in the body of believers. When we exclude others, we disfigure the body of Christ and make it less functional on a regular basis.
How can we be more functional? Perhaps we can start by recognizing we’re not the ones who decide who should be included! Look at 1 Cor 12:18 again:
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.” (1 Cor 12:18 NLT)
God places the different parts… not us.
It would be like completing a puzzle by only using the pieces we like. Let’s say we decide to only use the pieces that contain a straight edge. Once we have all “our” pieces gathered together, we’ll have a wonderful outline.
But we won’t have the big picture.
Should we fail to recognize who created and arranged all the parts of the body of Christ, we will create a poor representation of The One who came to make us one.
I mean, who would want to go to the “Church of Two Left Feet?”
Don’t fear differences… celebrate them! You get the big picture
… don’t you?
What can you do to promote unity among the body of believers where you are today? What are some of the best examples of Christian unity you’ve seen?