One size fits all?

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. (1Sa 17:38-39)

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. (1Co 12:17-18)

I'm grateful to Cerys for bringing this to my mind today. Yesterday she pointed out that her experiences were different to mine, and the way God deals with each of us is very different. He is gracious, and knows exactly what each of us need. This is absolutely right! It made me think of the two scriptures I have mentioned above.

Saul tried to get David to fight the way he did, but it just didn't work. David had his own way of fighting which turned out to be far more effective. We can't try and force everyone to be just like us, or to do things the way we do them, it is not the way God has planned it to be. The body is made up of different parts; you get a very different response when you shove a cotton bud in your eye, than you do when you put one in your ear. In one case it is helpful, but in the other case it certainly is not. We need to recognise the God-ordained diversity that exists within the body, and not try to impose a "One size fits all" mentality.

Now there are some things which are the same for all of us. Truth is not subjective, no matter what our society might say. Doctrine is either true for everyone or it is not true at all. There is none of this pluralistic "If it works for you, Brother...." Personal morality, is not a matter of choice either. God has clear standards and shows no favouritism. But every child is different, and God has arranged his body full of people who think and respond in different ways, and God is able to relate to them all as individuals.

This is particularly true in the area of gifting. Which is the context of the 1 Corinthians passage: "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit." One error, that thankfully I have not heard for a while is, "I have the Spirit, therefore I have all the gifts." This is just not true. We all have the same Spirit, but we do not have the same gifts. Although God is transforming us into the likeness of Christ, no one individual can ever represent the fullness of the gifting of Christ. If there was such a man, he would be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher all rolled into one — just as Christ was. But what does the scripture say? The gifts of the Spirit are distributed according to his will (Heb 2:4) We have different gifts according to the grace given us (Ro 12:6) And that not all are apostles, pastors or teachers (1Co 13:29)

We are designed to need each other! None of us has it all. None of us can survive without the variegated input from the full range of the ministries which God has arranged in his body. There is no room in the plan of God for a lone-ranger "Me and Jesus" mentality. We belong to each other. We cannot grow and function properly until we both find our proper place and gifting within the body of Christ, and also recognise and accept our dependance on the fellow ministries which God has joined us to.

We must never think we have it all, but equally we should never underrate the gift that God has given us. The body needs the gift that you have, and is incomplete if you don't use it. It's not arrogant to think this way... it's the way God has ordained it to be.

1 comment:

Kev C said...

Thank you for this insight Chris, your wisdom goes beyond your years. Love the cotton bud analogy that made me smile and has cheered up my evening. Its good to stay in touch thru yours and Matthew's blog. Keep on Blogging Brother!