One Body, One Spirit

Published on Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:00
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

One Body, One Spirit

From the Stewardship Today Archives, July 2013

For music lovers the world over, George Gershwin’s wonderful piece “Rhapsody in Blue” is defined by the opening clarinet glissando, the continuous run through an extended scale with which the composition begins. The clarinet doesn’t fully shape the entire score, of course. The orchestra or Gershwin’s own piano may have done so, but not the clarinet. And yet, this reed instrument is absolutely essential at the beginning. Likewise, though intricate brickwork marks the craft of a gifted mason, the one who mixes the mortar is a vital member of the crew. So also the President’s driver, a running back’s lineman, an author’s agent, and a host of other overlooked and forgotten members of any team or organization—people contributing the pieces of vast puzzles ensuring individuals achieve all they can and society works as it does.

The Church is obviously no different. Each parishioner, like every priest, plays an essential part in the work of the Lord Jesus. To a first century church with its own concerns about unity, St. Paul offered the following: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” The church in Corinth needed to hear that message. We do too. As the apostle had written, God gives to each individual member of the Church a gift or gifts for the express purpose of building up the whole.

If neither the chasm that separated Jews and Greeks, nor the obvious differences that existed between slaves and free people allowed first century Christians to design their own pictures of inclusiveness, then certainly any such picture in our culture would be a misguided and false personal ideal. We need each other and are not allowed the freedom to decide who belongs and who doesn’t. How does a wise God resolve potential conflicts? By reminding us that we share a common baptism, a baptism of faith into one body through the one Spirit of God.