Boast No More, II. Oneness in the Body amid Diversity

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Rm. 12:4-8).

The language that is used to describe the elect of God is that of single person, viz. a bride, though, by his grace, the elect of God are far more in number than one, single person. The purpose is multi-faceted. One facet is the picture of God’s love for his elect, demonstrated most clearly in shadow of healthy human marriage where one man and one woman are joined in a life-long intimacy that transcends any other relationship in human experience. Another facet, which is the that of the apostle presently, is the creation of the image of the Church as one body, who though comprised of many members are one single body performing distinct and vital functions. Each one in the Body might, pictorially, fulfill the function of a heart, another a hand, and another a foot, but each member is dependent upon the whole of the others to function properly.

For this reason, the apostle declares that God has assigned to each differing measures of faith, so that no member of the Church would act precisely in the manner of another. This allotment of faith is manifested in particular gifts such as prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. Each of these are crucial in the function of the body, and no church, be it local or universal, will exist as she ought apart from this diversity.

Therefore, the apostle admonishes those in the Roman church not to think more highly of themselves than they ought, but to remember that God is the giver of all things. He who prophesies should not esteem himself more highly than he who serves, for God has assigned to the prophet and the servant the faith required to live out his God-ordained role. Neither should a teacher think of himself more highly than the one who exhorts, nor should the giver think of himself more highly than the leader or the merciful. For God alone is the giver of gifts, and none would possess gifts apart from his giving them.

Because of God’s ordination of gifts, none should aspire to be what he is not. Each member must recognize that God has called some to be leaders and some to be followers. He has called some to be prophets and some to be the recipients of prophecy. He has called some to be givers and some to be the recipients of gifts. He called some to be givers of mercy and others to be the recipients of mercy. This giving and taking within the Body creates unity and dependency within the Body, making each member a giver of some crucial thing and the receiver of another.

It must be noted, however, that these gifts of which the apostle speaks are not the same as the fruits of the Spirit described in Galatians 5. Because of the Spirit who dwells richly in each member, each should evince “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22, 23) within in their particular allotment of faith. No gift, be it prophecy, teaching, exhorting, etc. can be done properly within the Body apart from the fruits of the Spirit, and neither should they be attempted. Each one who would aspire to function within the Body with particular gifts must first prove himself to be a bearer of the Spirit of God by his fruits. To do otherwise would prove destructive to the Body, for it would be done without regard for the health of the Body.

Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study

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