My wife and I are the caretakers of a beautiful horse ranch in Bryceville, Florida. Pardon me while I dispense with some pride… we make a pretty good team. She handles the ranch and I post blogs to WordPress. Well… I do try to maintain the ranch’s equipment between blogs. When blades wear out on the mowers, I’m the man. If u-joints and wheel bearings need grease, I’m on it. So, should the fuel filter clog on Grasshopper, who you gonna call? No, not Ghost Busters… me!
But when TC calls from the hay-field desperately pleading for a rake operator? Okay, let’s clear up what I don’t mean by rake… it’s not a hand tool with forked teeth on the end. Instead, it’s this massive piece of equipment with multiple wheels, protruding tines, cylinders, extending arms, and a partridge in a pear tree. Honestly folks, the farm I grew up on was equipped with two shovels, a hoe, and a worn out 8N tractor. But the equipment on this ranch looks more like something Luke drove into battle against Darth Vader.
Yet, when honey calls… so here I was perched in the cab of Boeing’s most recent development series of aeronautical vehicles provided to make farmers look really sophisticated (I don’t have a clue as to what I just said, but I’m pretty sure it made no sense). Here’s me, looking around the cab of this (it’s so not right to call it just this) tractor, trying to decide which of these levers, knobs, buttons, switches, lights, bells, and whistles might possibly control that ridiculous looking thing dragging behind me; I determined the most effective approach… “T…CCCC!”
Believe it or not, with coaching from my wife, I managed to rake the hay for her to bale (Hoo-Rah!) But as we finished, TC received a phone call from the core building and had to run. Yeah, leaving me in a field with that ridiculous looking thing dragging behind me… but with its groping arms extended fully; making it impossible to drive back to the barn. I began to push buttons, pull levers, and yes… speak with a very authoritative voice to that rake thing. It didn’t listen. No matter what I did, the hay-rake ended up worse than before.
Being the very flexible man who I am (and after about an hour of futile efforts to no avail), I came to the conclusion there was only one answer. Walk home. And so I did.
Truthfully, while there are tasks that I perform and am considered to be very effective, operating shuttle-age agricultural equipment isn’t one of them. You might say I resembled a fish out of water… or maybe more like a cow in water.
Fortunately, as Jesus builds His Church, He gifts His people with abilities so that scenes like the one above can be avoided. He gifts some to teach and others to give. Some are gifted to serve while another extends mercy.
Paul was so engrossed with the urgency of believers getting this right that he used an illustration, when writing his first letter to the believers at Corinth (12), of the human body to communicate it. He equated the Church of Jesus Christ as His body. Leaning upon his analogy, and mine, consider the ugly scenario if your mouth woke up one morning and decided it wanted to be your feet.
Just as with the human body, every member has been gifted with a necessary ability needed for the proper functioning of the church. It is not a picture of individual parts performing their duties separately from the others. It is a picture of each diverse gift being used in unity with all the other gifts, much like the hand needs the eyes, mouth, and brain to grab a hot fudge brownie from the pan and enjoy it (guess you know where my mind is). James Dunn describes it this way:
“Paul’s vision of the body of Christ is of a unity which consists in diversity, that is, a unity which is not denied by diversity, but which would be denied by uniformity, a unity which depends on its diversity functioning as such – in a word, the unity of a body, the body of Christ.”