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The Church: Diversity not Optional

July 24, 2009

When I step into the pulpit this Sunday to continue our series on the Church, I will be speaking from the quite familiar text of 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  I’ve done so before, but something is landing on me this time that I think I’ve missed before.

The twin emphases of Paul as he uses the body as a word-picture for the Church are unity and diversity.  Of these, I see the unity theme as a bit more highlighted by the Apostle because of the divisiveness within the church at Corinth.  Still, the need for diversity is also there as well.  So how do we put the two together?

I don’t think it’s enough to say anymore that unity in the church allows for diversity among the people.  Nor is it sufficient to say that unity recognizes the diversity among the people of God.  It seems fairly clear now that Paul wants us to see, say and believe this as well:  unity demands and requires diversity.  This has to be the point of 12:17-19:

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?

In this case, I am helped to read verse 19 not as a question, but as a statement (which is allowed for in the original text) as does the Contemporary English Version:

If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.  A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part.

No diversity, no body.  Plain and simple.  Yet, in our stubborn hearts, one we still seem to resist.  Resist it no more.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2009 4:53 PM

    Thank for your clear and timely comment on the Church and diversity.

    I am currently participating in a study course [1] this week, covering the values of accessibility and cultural relevance in our worship expressions.

    We are exploring ways to make our church more open and accessible for people in the community and how we connect through our worship services.

    I believe that many churches have protected themselves from the culture. We become set in our ways and fail to look outside the walls of our own house. Maybe it’s because we are afraid of change.

    Our churches must become more diverse and reach out to the community rather than closing in around itself.

    Change will come if we have the desire and passion to more like Jesus. If we follow his teachings we will reach out to our neighbors in love and bring them into our faith community.

    Bonnie Kennedy

    [1] The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, Essentials Green Online Worship Values Course

    • A Clay Jar Speaking permalink*
      July 24, 2009 7:02 PM

      Bonnie,
      Your kind words are an encouragement to this beginning blogger! Now to go check out yours! 🙂

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