This hand stitched potholder represents a connection in the body of Christ. The hands that made this will never know my name, but prayers for me are in each stitch. It represents the love and support of a community that has a heart for sharing God’s love and compassion in the world. Though we are each just one, and on our own we are very limited, together our reach is beyond the number of stars we can see in the sky or the grains of sand we can count on the seashore. Our God is great beyond our wildest dreams and He is using us to spur one another on for His purposes and to make His glory known among women and men.
This week I have had the honor to spend time with people who work with my organization and we have had the opportunity to share the vision we have for the world and relate to the small ways we have been called to serve in our various contexts, represented in the map and relief supplies above. Though many of these people do not share my background or even the type of Christian culture that I am used to, I have been challenged and inspired by the amazing depth and passion my new friends have for Christ and living out our faith in the world.
1 Corinthians jumped out at me this week, because Paul describes this unity I have been experiencing as he spurs another community to live out their faith together. Here are a few passages that spoke to me this week, and my hope is that they will also inspire you on our journey towards the unity of all believers. Paul proclaims,
“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:17
Christ is the body that unites us, but when I look at the variety of ways Christianity is practiced throughout the world, it is hard to imagine we all eat the same bread.
Paul goes one to say,
“That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Paul urges the church towards unity, but he doesn’t deny division. There are so many different denominations and expressions of the Christian faith, and among each of them there are also many tools for division. Whether our divisions are related to challenging theological dilemmas, culture, history, poverty, riches, injustice, war (and the list may go on and on), they are not beyond the glue that draws us together.
We must wrestle with our convictions, and stand firm in the way we each feel called to express our faith through reliance on the Word and Holy Spirit. However, beyond all of this we must draw closer to one another despite our difference and our similarities, for Paul affirms,
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 13:9-10
Many of our differences are due to our partial view. One day, we will understand the whole, but now we have been given just a part. Together we make up many different parts, but we still long for the perfect that we can’t yet see nor fully comprehend. However, these challenges do not slow us down,
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the world of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord you labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Let us make the most of the opportunities we have every day to stand together and proclaim the glory of the One who unites us, defines us, and uses us as his body of brokenness in a broken world.