First Corinthians, 12th Chapter|
Transliteration by Eugene H. Patterson in The Message
(Adapted by Pat Conover)
God's gifts are handed out everywhere, but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere, but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere, but God is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful...
All gifts have a common origin and all are handed out by the one Spirit of God.
You can easily enough see how this kind of things works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts - limbs, organs, cells - but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. Through Christ's Spirit we all said goodbye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which the Spirit has the final say in everything.... Each of us is now part of Christ's resurrected body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain - Christ's Spirit - where we all come to drink. The old labels we used to use to identify ourselves - labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free - are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ's body - that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of being the body does your "part" mean anything.