Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ To Be the Same in Our Differences

          I represent the many people who have difficulty comprehending that when God’s attention appears to be on someone else, it is also still on me. I carry within me the scars of a soul that knows what it is like for people to move on from me because they have found someone better. It is not easy to leave behind the mindset of trying to be the same as others who seem more acceptable than myself.

          In the wonder of God’s creative glory, he makes many things that are the same and different at the same time. Every snowflake is the same thing as another snowflake, and yet no two snowflakes are the same. The cells that form our body tissues are all cells, and yet each kind of cells looks different from the others. All molecules are molecules, but each kind of molecule has a harmonious uniqueness from other kinds of molecules.

          Human beings are all human beings, but the differences between us in appearance, size, shape, color, and style, are remarkable. The planets in our solar system are all planets, and yet each one has distinctive properties. The stars we see in the night sky, all looking like identical little bright lights in the universe, are actually full of variations from one star to another.

          The human body has many parts, but they are filled with differences. Even the repeated parts are harmoniously different from one another. The right hand is identical to the left, except in an oppositely different kind of way. I can use my hands to do the same thing, like typing out these thoughts, and yet both hands are coming from a different angle, and each finger and thumb is doing the same kind of things, but not at the same time or in the same places. Each digit is typing different letters at different times, each doing their part, adding together a harmony of letters that make up words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories, that can only become what they are by the parts of my body doing things slightly different from the other parts.

          Now, what if my right pinky felt it had to hit all the same letters on the keyboard as my left pinky? That would require such a cross-over of actions that I would never get anything done. My right pinky would be forcing its way into the spaces where my left pinky was trying to do its work, and messing up the number and order of the letters. At the same time, my writing would miss all the letter “P’s”, all the number “0’s”, all kinds of symbols,[1] and the actions of shift, enter, backspace, and delete. That’s a lot to miss just because one finger wants to be just like the other.

          When each part of my body does what it is uniquely designed to do, accepting that even what we call identical parts have enough differences that they add distinctive harmonies to the orchestration of our physical activities, there is a comprehensive movement of my body accomplishing great tasks for the one simple reason that every part is doing its part.

          And then there is the church. All over the world, church-gatherings are the same. They are made up of people. All these people who make up Jesus’ true church have been born again by the same Spirit of God, through the same gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every one of these people has repented of their sins, received Jesus Christ by faith, and experienced adoption as sons of God. All of us have the same standing in the grace of God, the same promises of God leading us to the same heavenly home, and the same identity as a beloved child of our heavenly Father. Each and every one of these people is a member of the body of Christ.

          Which brings us to the amazing differences within the worldwide church, and even in each local expression of the body of Christ. All around the world, every believer in Jesus Christ is unique from another. The same God who makes snowflakes similar and distinct in their design, also makes the members of his household similar and distinct in our design and function within his body. If the church were an orchestra, we would play the songs of heaven in far greater harmonies than any of us could imagine.

          To be sure, we can never have the kind of differences where people attempt to rewrite the score, or play at a different tempo than the conductor has chosen. Neither can we add our own unique attention-getting style to the distraction of those who are welcoming the life-giving music of God to their souls. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.[2] There is enough clarity in the “one’s” of the church that we must never cross over from harmony into discord.

          However, “…grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.[3] This means that each of us have our own unique place within the oneness of our salvation, the oneness of the body of Christ, the oneness of relationship with the one God and Father who is over us all. There is a gift Christ has given us in our distinctive design as members of the household of God. And, there is a measure of grace given to each of us in accordance with whatever Jesus has designed us to do.

          This unity and harmony is necessary to the life of the church, and the life of the individuals within the church. For this reason, Paul concludes his focus on our unified harmony in the body of Christ by exhorting: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.[4] When “each part is working properly,” we can have the kind of body of Christ that “builds itself up in love”.

          When we have “jealousy and selfish ambition… there will be disorder and every vile practice.[5] The body of Christ cannot maintain order when each part is trying to be another part instead of being themselves. When we are jealous of others, and have selfish ambitions to receive the accolades others appear to get from their work, we introduce practices to the church that are vile, corrupt, poisonous, and deadly. This is why Scripture clarifies, “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.[6]

          However, when we abide by the wisdom from above”, we get what is, “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.[7]Obviously, when every member of God’s orchestra plays by this quality of peace, in the harmonies of our unique gifting, everyone would benefit from the joyful sound.

          Now, I’m not sure that it is fair to say that God gives the stereotypical “slap upside the head” to get our attention. However, my time in the word this morning certainly had that feel to it, at least the “God got my attention” part. The God that declared of himself, I am who I am,[8] made me in the image and likeness of his Son, so that I could be who I am in him.

          Another day to grow up a little bit more to be like Jesus (in our own unique and wonderful ways, of course)!

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] ?/:;’”[{}]\|)_-+=
[2] Ephesians 4:4-5
[3] Ephesians 4:6
[4] Ephesians 4:15-16
[5] James 3:16
[6] James 3:15
[7] James 3:17-18
[8] Exodus 3:14

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