Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Maybe it’s only when a church is in vacancy that the true shape of the Body of Christ in a congregation is revealed. Without a human leader/figurehead, however charismatic or inadequate, the people of God when left to their devices will often move up to the plate and do a very good job of ‘getting on with things’, growing – sometimes quite dramatically – in the faith, while they’re at it. And then, just as suddenly, when a new minister turns up, especially of the new broom type, the congregation return quietly to their pews to take a back seat and be invisible again. As if the minister alone was ordained to ministry or service in the Kingdom.
The other side of the coin is the kind of congregation who expects their minister to be all things – apostle, prophet, teacher, able to do deeds of power, healing etc etc – and they are sure to be disappointed. Teamwork, Paul makes perfectly clear, is the name of the game. We’re parts of a body and need to fulfil whatever part God’s Spirit is gifting us for. And not one of us has a starring role because it is Christ alone who is the Head. It takes a funny mix of humility and … well, that greater gift. But I won’t spoil tomorrow’s devotion!
Some of our churches, Lord, are like teddy-bears with the stuffing knocked out of them. Some are china dolls with shiny heads too big for their bodies, hollow inside. We who should be bringing new life and love to the world in Your power need You to put us back into working order. Restore us and inspire us to gladly play the part You have chosen for us as members of Your Body.
Dorothy Courtis, Lay Preacher and member, Thurso URC
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