Recently, I spent the morning walking around my yard with the camera. I took time to observe where sunlight was chasing away shadows, exposing hidden details of spider webs, plants and flowers. I would focus the camera, hold my breath and release the shutter, hoping to get a tack sharp image. My intention with each photo is to show the beauty I see; the diversity of flowers which make up the whole of my lovely, bloom filled yard.
My yard was designed by a professional landscaper who drew up extensive sketches and blueprints. With precise measurements shown on the plans, it is evident the plants were carefully chosen for their color palette, size and seasonal time of blooming. The end result is a diverse flowering garden which remains vibrant and colorful 9 months out of the year.
There was a master plan, which was executed with precision, that has yielded glorious results.
On a much grander scale, the master plan of the body of Christ is being built out by God Almighty. Generation by generation, local church by local church, God is building His universal body through which His wisdom, beauty and glory are displayed. However, in a culture where we greatly value personal choice and freedom, we can easily forget it is God who is placing each Christian in the church where He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:18).
With the placement of a Christian comes the allotment of spiritual gifts they bring with them.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
As servants of God, which is ultimately how a Christian should view themselves, we do not choose where we will serve the Lord or how we will serve the Lord. Each member of the body of Christ has been given gifts and talents, meant to be used for the benefit of all. These are given by the Spirit as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).
It is the Spirit of God who knows the master plan for each local body of believers. He executes that plan with precision, in order to yield glorious results.
When put to use under the headship of Christ, the diversity of gifts given by the Spirit showcase God’s creativity and handiwork among a group of people who are themselves diverse. I often marvel at how people who would not have anything in common apart from Christ can enjoy such deep intimacy and true fellowship. When we serve one another and serve alongside one another, a unique familial bond is built. A group of individuals becomes united, creating a lovely display of the unseen God.
When the body is functioning in a whole and healthy way, the result is glorious! On the flip side, we can stray from seeing the big picture and rather become near sighted and self focused.
One trap I have fallen into on occasion is looking at the spiritual gifts of another and wishing I had that gift. I appreciate how the Lord is working through someone else and rather than simply enjoying that manifestation of the Spirt through their life, I wonder why God doesn’t use me in that way.
Another trap I have fallen into is being excited while using the gift I’ve been given, then wondering why other people don’t come alongside. Instead of just doing what the Lord has called me to do, I have become frustrated that no one else seems to be functioning in the same way I am within the body. Rather than appreciating the diversity of gifts, I want everyone to put the same value on how God is working through my life, as though my gifting is the most important.
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 placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.1 Corinthians 12:17-20
The body of Christ is in need of all parts. With each part exercising the spiritual gifts given, there is beauty, life and vitality. Just like my garden, the diversity of parts making up the whole of the body, reveals that wisdom and intentional design were involved in the making and execution of the master plan.
As we gather with our local church this weekend, may we go with eyes open to the diversity of gifts given. May we see one another (and ourselves) as an integral part of the wonderful design God is building out. May we serve our Lord and one another with hearts of gratitude and joy; gratitude to God for being included in the beautiful body of Christ and joy as we use the gifts which the Spirit has given for the benefit of all.