Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Unity Through Diversity

This was the segment that I preached this last Sunday. We held a combined worship service for the Churches in Florence at the High School stadium. It was packed. What a wonderful experience and I truly feel privileged to have been a part, of what we hope will be an annual event:

Unity Through Diversity (Combined service)

Romans 12:3-9 (Ron 4,5)

4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

An Assemblies of God preacher tells a story about himself about receiving a call from a woman who was quite upset over the death of her pet cat, Homer. She wanted the preacher to conduct the funeral service for Homer!

The preacher explained that this was little out of his line, and he referred her to a friend, a Christian Church pastor at a church down the street. Later, the preacher learned that his friend had referred her to a Nazarene minister, who had referred her to An Evangelical then someone else.

About an hour later, she called the Assemblies of God preacher back and she was still upset. The woman said she was at her wit's end. She couldn't find a preacher to conduct Homer's services and didn't know what to do. She said she planned to give $1000 to the church of the minister who performed this service for Homer.

The Assemblies of God preacher said it took him only a moment to mull this over and then say to her, "Well, why didn't you tell me Homer was a Assemblies of God cat in the first place?!"

Why indeed so many denominations, so many churches? Should we not have unity rather than division?

William Barclay wrote concerning vv. 4,5:

"One of Paul's favorite thoughts is of the Christian Church as a body. Each part of the body carries out its own function, however prominent or however humbly unseen that function may be.

It was Paul's conviction that the Christian Church should be like that. Each member has a task to do; and it is only when each contributes the help of his own task that the body of the Church functions as it ought."

Beneath this passage lie very important rules for life.

(i) First of all, it urges us to know ourselves. (What has God called us to do?)

(ii) Second, it urges us to accept ourselves and to realize that we are all important in the body of Christ. We need each other.

It's time we celebrated the diversity of Jesus' body. Not only in our individual congregations but in all of the different congregations here in Florence.

We, the church, truly can be a working living example of Unity through Diversity, let's embrace that. Without Diversity, we could not function as a body. Just as a body made up of all feet or eyes would not function in unity.

Christian Singer Betsy Walker wrote this on her blog:

"Yesterday morning I broke my pinky toe. I don't even have a cool story to go with it! I was carrying cantaloupe to the table for breakfast and caught my toe on the chair. Guess it doesn't take much.

Now, when you break your pinky toe there's no medical emergency. You basically just continue on - life as usual.

I can still walk...but it hurts. I can still work out at the gym...but I've adjusted which exercises I do. So, I'm functioning, but I'm limping.

This morning the Lord woke me up with this thought: how many people think they are pinky toes?

Maybe you are a pinky toe in the body of Christ. Maybe the church can go on without you but it will be running with a limp.

Betsy goes on: I have found that my big toe (which is strong and healthy) has been trying to compensate for my gimp pinky and as a result my whole foot is starting to hurt.

The big toe isn't supposed to carry such a heavy burden. And if my whole foot is damaged as a result, that is a medical emergency! I would have to make some serious changes in my lifestyle.

I see a lot of people sitting in their seats on Sunday morning, and that is the extent of their participation.

But don't you see?

When you don't participate -it hurts
When you don't give - it hurts
When you don't serve - it hurts
When you don't love - it hurts

Maybe your role on this earth seems behind the scenes or small...maybe your main job is to be a support for Big Toes, but even then your role is huge. You enable us, the church, to run the race in the manner we were meant to run."

We may not choose to be the pinky toe, but if that is what God has called us to do, let's do it well.

There shouldn't be any super stars in the body of Christ.

We each have our own role to play and our own gifts to use. God designed the body of believers to be able to use their abilities to support the other members of the body.

No one is more important, but all must work together for the common good. If one person doesn't participate then the entire body suffers.

This applies to the individual and the local church. We all must do what God has called us to do.

Never feel as though you aren't important in the body of Christ.

Until we all accept our roles and support one another we will never rise to our full potential as the body of Christ.

My prayer for today is this:

(Everyone repeat after me)

Lord let me be the best pinky toe that I can possibly be!


Anonymous said...

yes its okay to be a baby toe, this baby toe thinks praying for a pet isnt something a pastor should do. Funerals for pets arent necessary, however you could minister to the woman on what is important in Gods eyes....otherwise an okay illustration..Cant compromise on the essentials but on secondary issues dont need to get bent out of shape over...janitor

Ron Ballew said...

It's not a true story.

Whether you pray for a pet depends on what that pet's denomination is...(this is a joke).