So, last Sunday we heard from Paul’s letters to the Romans where he discusses various gifts that different people bring to the body of Christ. Paul writes: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness” (Romans 12:3-8).
I think this is one of those passages that really endures the test of time. It’s a good reminder for us about a model of community that embraces us and our unique gifts and quirks. I think we’re often given a model of competition. Our value to the world is constituted by what we’re better at than other people. It’s not simply that we ought to be talented and rich and good-looking, but we need to be more talented, richer, and more good-looking than the person sitting next to us in order to be a “successful” human being. But the vision of community we’re given here is different. We’re not defined by the qualities or abilities that we lack. Rather, we are joyfully accepted for all the good things that we bring to the table. Of course, those gifts are going to be different. Of course, we’ll never be good at everything. It’s likely there are skills or abilities we’ll be downright terrible at. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s a reminder that we were created to live with and for each other. So, we don’t have to operate in a model of competition. We can use our gifts to cooperate to create something greater, to fashion a way of relating to one another that is healing and life-giving. A body is more than the sum of its parts. When we come together in this way, when we live as a body, we create something precious and sacred and bigger than we know.