Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:21–26
In his death and resurrection, Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God that would include people from all nations, breaking down the dividing walls between humanity.
God has only one kingdom where he alone is King and all followers of Jesus Christ – Jews and Greek, male and female, free or enslaved – are equal subjects (though gifted differently according to the Spirit). With Christ-followers all over the world, God’s kingdom thrives on variety and diversity, both of human cultures and gifts.
The kingdom itself is a spiritual reality made visible on earth by the work of the Spirit of God gathering us together from all nations, tribes, and tongues. Only the Spirit of God can create a fellowship where humans of different cultural backgrounds, social standings, political persuasions, and theological inclinations can belong together in true unity.
Psalm 133 assures us that God bestows spiritual blessing upon us when we are united. Our unity intensifies the powerful presence of the Spirit, enabling us to manifest the redeeming and healing work of God in our society. Indeed, our multicultural existence, united in our diversity as we are, equips us to bear witness for Jesus in a world divided into factions and tribes.
This is why Paul begs us in Ephesians 4:3 to ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’. Unity, for Paul, is so important that he wants us to think of ourselves as though we were parts of one body – the body of Christ – joined and held together by the support of each part.
In 1 Corinthians 12:25, Paul also says that there should be no division in the body as, essentially, the well-being of the body depends on the mutual exchange and support between its members. There is not one part of the body that is self-contained. We, Bantu Africans, are correct to say, ‘I am because we are’. All humanity is interdependent and – as Paul says in Romans 8:21 – even creation longs to be ‘brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God’. Meanwhile, followers of Christ are the healing presence of God in the world.
God has given us all gifts for one another. Our unity, prayers, and presence in a struggling world are such gifts. We also receive the gifts of our neighbours’ presence, love, and hospitality. Being part of the body entails being able to give and to receive – to keep the bond of peace in the world.
CEO, Global Connections
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