Perhaps in recent weeks, months, or years you have, like me, been wondering where your place is in all the work that still needs to be done regarding the reunification of humanity. Sometimes, when we have a particular burden on our hearts, God is calling us to be the very answer we wish existed to the problem(s) we observe. Other times, we are so busy expending our energy and efforts in the various areas we feel drawn to that we bypass the vacant spaces that await our awakening to God’s call on our lives to fill them. God’s purpose for the body of Christ is to be the example to a hurting world of what unity is and how His love is to be effectively expressed.
I found myself drawn to the passage that we will study together today. My hope is that, through our deeper exploration of this passage, we can better identify the unique part each of us can play in the larger charge to be the light of the world and embody the love of Jesus through our unique gifts, imparted by the Holy Spirit. The way that we operate in our gifting is how we honor God and bring glory to His name. While this is a popular passage within the church for its identification of spiritual gifts, one additional lens has been used to help us broaden our scope of the message Paul shares. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Paul is one of the New Testament (NT) leaders, called apostles. The heading of the passage in question, “Unity and Diversity in the Body,” already speaks volumes in itself. Let’s dive right in.
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Upstream. Against the current. Even after losing yourself in the waves of disappointment. Just. Keep. Swimming.
This line spoken by Dory in the movie Finding Nemo is such a memorable one. It’s a reminder to keep going no matter what. Dory’s character is most memorable for her “can do” spirit, even in the face of what appears to baffle her. Even when she forgets her surroundings, what she’s learned and who she’s met. She keeps a positive mindset and presses forward with enthusiasm. Now, I understand if you’re reading this and thinking that you can’t relate to that level of optimism in the face of what you’ve been making your way through lately. But I want to remind you of something. God is faithful. He knows what you’ve been going through and He cares about every detail!
On those difficult days, there are words of encouragement that can be found throughout scripture to address your situation. For example, Proverbs 24:16a in the New International Version says, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” This is a beautiful reminder that, no matter what gets you down or how many times you feel defeated, in Christ, you don’t have to be! There will always be an opportunity to get back up and keep going. God guarantees it. Another important reminder we receive in scripture is not to grow weary in doing good because a beneficial outcome awaits on the other side of our perseverance (Galatians 6:9). God’s word is filled with affirmations reminding us that He’s on our side, rooting for us.
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At this time, when hatred has, once again, reached a fever pitch, the names of slain Black individuals continue to increase, institutional oppression persists, COVID-19 affects Black and Brown communities at alarming rates, and our neighborhoods are over-policed but somehow under-protected….it can be so easy to give into the fear and fury that builds within. However, whether you are a member of the affected community or an ally, please allow love for humanity to precede hatred of injustice in informing your decision making. Know that righteous anger for justice to be implemented is critical to the cause, but, never forget that love is a tool to be implemented at all times. Love is an action word as well as a heart posture. The Bible instructs us to be angry and not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). When we seek justice from a place of anger or hatred, we aren’t seeking justice…we’re seeking revenge. God made it very clear that vengeance belongs to Him (Romans 12:19). As monuments of oppression are being torn down, seeds of peace need to be planted in their place. That peace begins with reconciliation, rooted in love.
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