Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
Music and theater were a big part of my upbringing. My sisters and I were not the most athletic kids, so choir, voice lessons, and musicals were our sport. I was never really content with just being a member of the choir, or a background part in a musical. I always wanted the solo or the lead.
Perhaps there was a church member or two in Corinth who felt the same way. Maybe they were trying to steal the show, or maybe they were trying to prove their gifts were better than someone else’s. Paul enters and tells them that as believers, we operate as one unit, not solo performers. We are all members of one body, and “the body is not one part but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).
Even though I said goodbye to my music and theater days long ago, I still struggle with this truth. I still want to stand out. I still want the “best” gifts. I still crave that recognition. (My family didn’t nickname me “Drama Mama” for nothing.) But if we look at what I Corinthians 12 really says about our gifts, we see that it has little to do with our individual talents, and much more to do with the way they unify us as believers.
The variation of gifts in Christian community highlights our need for one another. Where I am weak, another member of the body is strong. Where someone else is weak, I am strong. Individually, we can only go so far with our own gifts. Together, we are a full cast, the complete body of Christ. This makes us able to serve our community, one another, and in turn, bring glory to God. Our gifts serve a greater purpose: unification.
As Paul explained, “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person” (vv. 4-6). The emphasis here is on what’s the same about us, not what’s different. We all have the same Spirit. We all have the same Lord. We all have the same Father.
The Church is at its best when we operate as one unit, not as talented individuals trying to outshine each other. When we operate as a unit, we reflect Christ, “[f]or as the body is one and has many parts… so also is Christ” (v.12).
In spite of my desire for the spotlight, I am learning that the Christian life is not always a loud one. What we do in love and service to our Lord may not always have an audience. So much of this journey is spent using our gifts in quiet ways that may not bring us individual attention, but will bring balance and unity to the body—this is how our gifts were intended to serve.
May we stop running after the spotlight and find contentment working backstage. May we seek unity above our own glory, and may we be grateful for diversity in the body and all the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on us by the Father.