The Blessings of Family
It’s a joy to be a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church family! Our family consists of a diverse group of individuals representing different nations, cultures and ethnicities with the common goal of sharing the love of Jesus Christ in the blessed hope of His soon return! As family members, we’re called to commit to a local church where we can use our varying spiritual gifts to love and serve each other and build up Christ’s body, the Church.
As the body of Christ, the church constitutes the means by which Christ functions within the world. Hence, the church isn’t merely a group of religious people gathered together to enjoy certain mutually desired functions. Rather, it is a group of people who belong to the same Lord, who are filled with the same Spirit, who are given gifts by that same Spirit and who are intended to function together to change the world by the life of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul reminds us of this and employs the analogy of the human body juxtaposed with the body of Christ, to help us better understand how the church is designed to function. Each family member, each part of the body, has a distinct gift bestowed by God through the power of the Holy Spirit to edify the whole. Hence, the diversity of gifts from the different members are needed to improve the entire body and build the church.
We often confuse unity with uniformity because it’s much easier to engage people who are like ourselves than it is to embrace diversity, inclusive of color, culture and class. Yet, because the body should be a foretaste of Heaven’s population, Paul challenges the Church to acknowledge and accept the varied gifts of the Spirit. Diversity within the church is not a problem to be avoided, but a gift of God’s grace and a sign of God’s Spirit at work.
In this family, there are no insignificant members. Every member is needed to accomplish and fulfill the work that Christ has commissioned us to do. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26 (RSV). It’s similar to playing a team sport. The concept is simple: If we win, I win. Team chemistry, however, is disrupted when members feel like they have nothing to contribute because they aren’t the top performer on the team. Yet when each individual team member is valued and makes their contribution, the entire team benefits and wins! I’m glad to be a part of the team and this family! How about you?
By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min., President