Lessons from First Corinthians: The Body of Christ
A few months ago, I wrote a post about our upcoming Sunday series on the book of First Corinthians. Now that we’re coming closer to the end of the series, we’ve learned a lot from Paul and the Corinthian church on how to live together as a community that follows Jesus together. This last Sunday, we listened to Paul’s description of the Church as the Body of Christ. His argument was that, though the Church is made of many parts, people of different races, ages, cultures, and backgrounds, with different gifts and abilities, we are all a part of the same Body. This diversity is actually a strength for the Church, and it enables us to be a community that can care and serve people in all kinds of ways.
The Global Church as the Body of Christ
While we often think about or apply this idea of the Body of Christ in our own communities, over the last few months I’ve been considering how this idea of the Body of Christ applies to the greater Christian community. The reality is that the same diversity that exists in our individual, local churches is also represented in the global Church. While we as individuals have diverse spiritual gifts, our own abilities, knowledge, and experiences that enable us to have a unique contribution to our faith communities, the same is true of local churches, denominations, and the larger Christian traditions. Some churches stick to teaching the Bible, others augment their Biblical teaching with history, science, and other schools of learning: some are involved in missions oversees, others focus on helping people in their own communities: some traditions focus on Scripture as the ultimate authority, others believe in the authority of the Holy Spirit for everyday life, others believe in the authority given to the Church by God. In all of this diversity, the global Church functions as the Body of Christ: empowered by His Spirit, taking His name, and doing the kinds of things He did on earth (though we do this imperfectly).
Being Different, Or Even Being Wrong, Doesn’t Mean You’re Not A Part of the Body
Don’t get me wrong I don’t agree with every tradition, every denomination, or every unique perspective that is represented across the range of Christian belief. I think some beliefs I see put forward by Christians or churches are incorrect, and actually hurting the cause that Jesus gave to the Church. However, I also believe that most of the people who push these views forward are people who are trying to follow God, they’re just doing that imperfectly. And that makes them no different than me. Ultimately, different churches focus on different things because they come from different backgrounds, and they were formed for different reasons. I can disagree with their conclusions, but I should be aware that they are a part of the Body of Christ, and I shouldn’t invalidate their function because it is different than mine. If my hand is broken, it doesn’t stop being a part of my body, it just means that the rest of my Body needs to show it some extra care and attention to bring it back to health and function.
Being the Church in Winkler
This brings me to the Church in Winkler. There are lots of churches in Winkler, and more are planted every year. Each one has a different flavour, a different focus, a different history, and a different purpose. And every year, many of these churches gather together for a community Church service during the Harvest Festival weekend. I think this is awesome. Not because every Christian in Winkler can fit in the Parkland bowl and attend, and not because the message always speaks to me, but because it’s a symbol of the fact that, despite being different, some of us very much so, every year there is an opportunity to remember that the thing that brings us together is more powerful than the things that could drive us apart. It is an opportunity to remember that the Church is bigger than the four walls of our local church, and to put that belief into practice.
It’s Harvest Festival weekend in a few days, and I hope you go to the Sunday morning community worship service. It might not be your favourite music, and it might not be your favourite speaker. The weather might not co-operate, and you might have to use a porta-potty half-way through. But I believe it’s worth it.