There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (1Co 5:41)
It doesn't take a degree in astrophysics to notice that not all stars are the same. Some are bright, some a faint. Some are high in the sky some are low to the horizon. Some stay visible at northern latitudes all year round, while others rise and set with the passing of the seasons.
This very variety is part of the glory of the heavens. Can you imagine what the night sky would look like if every star was equally bright, or every star was equally high in the sky? Where would be the glory or the wonder in that? Although the bright stars draw our eyes, it is the myriad of fainter stars that gives the heavens its sense of infinite depth and incomprehensible size.
The parallel with the church is clear. God has arranged the parts just as he saw fit. The church is the display of his manifold wisdom. No two parts are the same. There is no one-size-fits-all. God loves all men and women the same, but has apportioned a different measure of grace and a different prominence to each. And it is this very variety that serves to display his glory.
Not all are prophets, not all are prophets or teachers. Not all are preachers, or leaders. Not all have the same position of prominence or measure of gifting, but each one is hand-picked by God with a unique and special place marked out by the divine hand. No-one else can fill that spot. The constellation is not complete if even the faintest member is missing. Each shines with heavenly light in the blackness of the night declaring the glories of God.
Those who are serious about giving God the glory he deserves are less concerned with their own position or prominence; comparing the light of their gift to the brightness of another. But rather rejoice in the unique position in his heavenly plan assigned to them, and shine for him with all the light he has given them.
so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Php 2:15 NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Ps 19:1)
The stars are a frequent motif in the scriptures for the people of God. The promise to Abraham was that his offspring would be like the stars in the night sky. When Joseph had his dreams, one of the representation of his brothers, the sons of Israel, was as eleven stars. In one of Daniel's visions, the trampling of the stars underfoot, was interpreted as the persecution of the saints, and in his final chapter he prophesies that the righteous in the resurrection will shine like the stars forever and ever.
It's quite an awesome thought, when you look up at the night sky, that what you are seeing is not just a demonstration of God's heavenly glory, but a representation of his earthly people. There's quite a neat symmetry too, that God places in the heavens a representation of his church on the earth, and in his church on the earth he places a demonstration of his heavenly glory. The church is both a heavenly reality of the order, rule and glory of God, and an earthly reality made up of real flesh and blood men and women. It belongs to both heaven and earth, and has a mission and a mandate to see the will of heaven come down to earth.
Once you make the connection between the stars and the people of God there is much that can be drawn out from the scriptures that is very relevant to the nature of the church and her calling. I will share some of my own musings on the subject in some following posts.