Summary: Unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
Today is Remembrance Day. The day in Canada that we remember our fighting men and women who have died in service to this country so that we have the freedom to worship
Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
Today we also gather with churches across this planet in over 130 countries to remember those who have given their lives for the cause of Christ and still face persecution. Today, more than 200 million Christians around the world face brutal opposition and persecution because of their faith in Jesus. They face serious social pressure against converting to Christianity, rejection by family and friends, repression from authorities, violent attacks against themselves and their loved ones, and opposition and intimidation from other religious groups. We are called to suffer with them as they experience their sufferings, and to pray for them.
Together, our prayers help suffering believers to experience the faithfulness of God, to see their societies transformed by the gospel, and to know, along with His sufferings, the peace and victory of Jesus. Together with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world we can see unity in diversity
In 1 Cor 12, Paul explains and illustrates the nature and importance of the unity of the church itself, and then again the importance of diversity as a key factor in that unity. The diversity of the church is a God–ordained means of bringing the fellowship to oneness, but unless each diverse member recognizes and accepts his part in the whole body, diversity will divide rather than unite, destroy rather than build up, bring discord rather than harmony, and result in self–serving rather than self–giving.
How well do you relate to other Christian communities around the globe? To be honest, I have never really suffered. I have not lost someone very close to me, never suffered any real physical pain, and live in one of the freest nations on Earth. It can be hard for all of us to relate to events in hostile and violent nations of social pressure, rejection, repression, attack, opposition and intimidation. When we do come to grips with these things however, and intercede on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters, we not only grow as Christians but we become instruments that God uses to change this world. We realize and function as we are created: We are one.
In 1 Cor. 12:12-27 we see the unity and diversity in the body of Christ.
WE HAVE 1) UNITY WITH OUR PERSECUTED BRETHREN
A) UNIFIED IN ONE BODY 1 Corinthians 12:12
1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (ESV)
Paul again (cf. 10:17) uses the human body to illustrate the unity and interrelationship of the members of Christ’s Body, the church. Through verse 27 of chapter 12 Paul uses the term body some 16 times, and he uses the metaphor many other places in his writings (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 1:23; 2:16; 4:4, 12, 16; Col. 1:18; etc.).
The human body is by far the most amazing organic creation of God. It is marvelously complex yet unified, with unparalleled harmony and interrelatedness. It is a unit; it cannot be subdivided into several bodies. If it is divided, the part that is cut off ceases to function and dies, and the rest of the body loses some of its functions and effectiveness. The body is immeasurably more than the sum of its parts.
Christ’s Body is also one. There are many Christian organizations, denominations, agencies, clubs, and groups of every sort. But there is only one church, of which every true believer in Christ is a member. Paul is so intent on driving home the point of oneness in the church that he refers to Christ as the church: so it is with Christ.
Please turn to Romans 8
No one can separate Christ from His church than we can separate a body from its head. When Christ is referred to as the head of the church it is always in the sense of mind, spirit, and control. When a body loses its mind and spirit it ceases to be a body and becomes a corpse. It still has structure but it does not have life. It is still organized but it is no longer a living organism.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)