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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 12:12–31a

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. (NRSV)

We often lament the fact that we live in a divided society. Rich/poor, Republican/Democrat, rural/urban—on and on the list could go. In reading Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians it is helpful to realize this is nothing new. What is even more astonishing is how Paul deals with these divisions. He puts the divisions in the boldest, bluntest terms possible but says that what divides us is not as strong as what unites us. “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

It may be hard to imagine that we are all one in the body of Christ—Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians, mainline and evangelical Christians—but we all share in the same love freely given by God. People of different races and nationalities, people of different social classes, those with plenty and those who want, we are all one in the body of Christ. We each have something to offer, so many gifts that we can share with each other, and so much to learn from the other with respect and trust; we are all equal in that body, all full members of the body of Christ. Our divisions are not as important as what brings us together, because what we have in common together is love: God’s love for each of us, and our love for God and for each other. That love binds us all into one body and can break down any and all divisions.

Eternal God, help me to realize that what binds us together is more important than what separates us. Help me to see others as your children, fully loved and worthy of my own full and freely given love. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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