By Jeff Arnette
What is the difference between a diamond and a gold nugget? The most obvious differences are visual. One looks clear and the other is yellow in color. The biggest differences are not visible but material. One is soft, malleable, while the other is hard, able to cut through almost anything. Both can be shaped into amazing and beautiful jewelry but each is different in their own special ways.
So, it is with the church. Each of us is unique and special in our own ways. While the differences are often easily seen, the differences run much deeper. We are all unique, special, and valuable and have all been gifted by our God with special talents, abilities, and meant to benefit His church and people in vastly different ways.
The point that I want to emphasize to you is that like that diamond or nugget of gold, we are not meant to be the same. Understanding this is vital to our success and our relationships within the church. We are not supposed to be the same or do the same things. Some of are gifted evangelists but some of us are not. Some of us are gifted encouragers but some of us are not. Some of us are gifted listeners, always there to listen and support someone else, but some of us are not. Some of us are leaders, teachers, singers, thinkers, and dreamers. We cannot expect everyone to think or act just like one part of the body of Christ. It’s unrealistic, unscriptural, and just not fair to expect everyone to be the same.
Beginning in 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul speaks of this glorious truth. We are one body with many members and if one part should feel like they are not valuable or needed in the body because they don’t look like or do the things that another part of the body does that doesn’t mean they are not needed. It doesn’t mean they are not a faithful part of the body. It is unfair to expect the hand to be like the eye or the foot to be like the ear. The old saying goes, “if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree, it will spend its life feeling like a failure.” The same is true in the church. If you judge everyone by your standard of what faithfulness is or what everyone should be doing, some are going to excel while the rest are made to feel like failures.
In vs. 21, Paul attacks this problem from the opposite perspective. If a person, a part of the body looks at another part of the body and declares they are not good enough, not faithful enough because they are not doing what you are doing. You have judged your brother or sister by a standard you set and placed expectations on them that God never intended. In fact, Paul says, those parts of the body you think insignificant and unimportant because their God given talents are not like yours are indispensable. God placed them in the body and has given them talents per His will, not ours.
The goal of God is that we will all be a vital and connected part of the body. That there will be no divisions in the body so that all of us are honored for our contributions without being made to feel like we don’t measure up. Our goal is not to be like everyone (Mark 14:3-9) else but to use the gifts and talents God has given us to the best of our ability for His glory.
We are all valuable, gifted by God, and vital to the success of the church. Don’t ever think that because you are not passionate about the same thing or gifted like someone else you are inferior to them and don’t unfairly expect others to be like you. We need everyone, with their special talents, experiences, and gifts. God’s perfect plan is never wrong.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/