The Apostle Paul was not an anatomist or an organizational theorist. He was, however, a brilliant communicator of the Gospel. Like other effective communicators, teachers, preachers, and missionaries, Paul drew illustrations from everyday life to convey spiritual truths. In this paragraph in his letter to the Christians in Rome, he uses the human body as a metaphor for the church, the Body of Christ.
It’s a familiar metaphor that I can readily run with: a body of believers blessed by a rich variety of spiritual gifts invested in dynamic worship, compassionate mission, and prophetic witness; a spiritual organism in which each member contributes faithfully and sacrificially to the whole, united in common vision and shared purpose.
All well and good, but this model of the Church must be applied and actualized in the real world by real human beings. First, I hear Paul saying, maybe we need to do some internal work. Yes, we are each uniquely gifted and equipped for the work of the church. But, he reminds us, a spirit of humility is a prerequisite.
Humility is the lubricant required for the various parts to work together harmoniously, effectively, and joyfully. Pride, which Paul describes as thinking too highly of oneself, is the grime in the gears of the church. Pride encourages comparisons, pettiness, and jealousies. It creates friction, confusion, and conflict.
With humility, am I eager to acknowledge the gifts, voices, callings, and contributions of others? Do I affirm their distinctive and varied roles in the mission of the church? Do I go out of my way to praise them, encourage them, and thank them? If not, maybe the first step is to check my pride at the door.
Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but…think with sober judgment
(v. 3). What does that mean to you?
Loving God, help me to do my part as a member of your Church, the Body of Christ, with humility, grace, and gratitude. Amen.