Summary: The largest room in the world is the room for improvement. This is where we are all at. That is why Paul warns us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. You can only be a growing Christian if you are aware of the fact that you have a long way to go.
Back in the 1600's William Lantan was the captain of a ship headed for Barbados. A thousand
miles off the coast his vessel sprang a leak, and he had the crew take refuge in their longboat.
They had a plentiful supply of bread, but little water. After 18 days of drifting they were down to
a tablespoon per man a day. They knew their days were numbered.
Meanwhile, another ship captain by the name of Samuel Scarlet was having his problems.
They were almost out of food, but had plenty of water. They spotted the longboat and rescued
them. Each party discovered the other had what they lacked. One had bread for all, and the other
had water for all. Both crews would have perished without the other, but together they supplied
each other's need for survival.
None of us can begin to be all that God wants us to be until we grasp the value of
interdependence. All of life; all of nature; all of history, and all the universe is based on the
principle of interdependence, and the fact that everyone needs what someone else has, and
everyone has what someone else needs. Only God is totally independent and self-sufficient. All
else, and everyone else is interdependent. Satan fell from his lofty heights because he thought of
himself more highly than he ought. He thought he too could be independent and self-sufficient.
Relative independence and self-sufficiency are virtues that all of us should cultivate, but when
you strive to make them absolutes in your life, they become vices that destroy rather than develop
your potential. The Christian who really has it altogether is the Christian who can see what Paul
is saying in Rom. 12. He is saying that all Christians are members of a body, and they are all
interdependent. The Christian who cannot grasp this truth will be constantly frustrated by the fact
that there are so many Christians who are different from himself. He will be puzzled by the
diversity of views, convictions, and behavior. The end result will be his fear, uncertainty, and
insecurity with all of this, and it will lead him to make diversity a foundation for division.
This is why Paul is writing as he does here in Rom. 12. His goal is to prevent this negative
response by helping Christians to see that diversity is not demonic nor dangerous, but it is divine
and delightful. It is the differences in the members of the body that make body life so interesting,
enjoyable, and fruitful. Paul uses the analogy of the body to describe the church, because the body
is the ideal example of the value of diversity.
An old fable told of how the stomach was once accused by the rest of the members of the body
as being lazy. The stomach just sets there consuming everything, but doing nothing. So the hands
and feet and teeth decided to go on strike, and refused to do anything to help the stomach. The
stomach depended on them for its supply, and so when they refused to send it food the stomach
began to shrink, and soon it ceased to function. But the other members of the body were not all
that happy with their teaching the stomach a lesson, for they soon learned that when the stomach
got weak, so did they. They discovered that they were just as dependent upon the stomach as it
was dependent on them. With that discovery came reconciliation, and the body began again to
function in healthy interdependence.
Diversity is not only a value, it is a necessity in the body. A body is only at its best when the
eye sees a value, the feet carry the body to that valued object, the hand reaches out to bring the
value to it, the mouth and the teeth pulverize it for swallowing, the taste buds and nose add the
fringe benefits of taste and smell, the throat swallows it, the stomach digests it, the blood carries it
to all parts of the body, including the brain, which has the capacity to take into the whole positive
process for future reference when the body comes into contact with that value again. In other
words, the body is at its best when all parts of the body are working together toward a common
goal, each depending on the other to cooperate in reaching that goal.
In contrast to the beauty of such harmonious interdependence, imagine the pitiful existence of
anyone of these members of the body on its own. An eye that can see, but can make no response
that vision, or feet that can move about, but with no vision of where or why, teeth that grind up
food but with no goal for the food beyond the grinding. We could go on and on and show how any