Individual yet Collective

Romans 12:4 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 

Being part of a group, yet retaining our identity is important to us. We all would like to leave our mark in the world, yet remain part of a group fellowship. From the beginning of Romans 12, the Apostle Paul is helping his readers understand it is important to be different from the world but remain in the world and use the gifts that God has given to make a difference around us.

If we read this verse in the context of the passage we’re looking at this week, we can get a broader sense of how we can work together even with our different gifts and show the love and glory of God.

Romans 12:3-8 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

So, what stands out to you? I think it is incredible how we can and do have different gifts and talents; but we are still part of the same body. The piece that holds us together is God. We all have been given different gifts, but we are hopefully working toward the same goal, bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ.

I love this about the writing of Paul in this passage. Basically I hear that we have the opportunity to be in relationship with many types of people and work toward a common goal. We have the chance to show the mighty power of God in our individual lives, and in our lives in community.

God works in and through people. There is most likely something that God is leading you to do right now, but you are not alone. It may feel lonely at times but there is a whole faith community in Christ praying and working in other areas to show the good news of Jesus Christ and to bring his message to a world in desperate need of his love and grace.

It is because of our faith in Christ that we belong to each other. We are a family. This means that we are connected. I am not sure about you, but “In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.” is a huge challenge. We will want to work by ourselves, sometimes; but we have a responsibility to bring others in and work with them to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Who do you believe would make a good ministry partner for you? What gifts do they bring? What gifts should you personally nurture?

Cookie Cutters?

Romans 12:4 “We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us had the same function, same mindset, same gifts and talents as each other? Wouldn’t that make life easier? I know we say (and hopefully tease), “If only [insert name or group] would think (or act) just like me, then everything would be right.” After all, I am the one that is always right, correct?

Sometimes I believe we slip into the mindset and attitudes that it would be so much better if everyone else acted and thought just like we do. One of the beauties of the creativeness of God is how much diversity is out there for us to enjoy. Let’s be honest, we like diversity and can get a little bored of the same thing over and over. We like to make choices.

We are not all “cut out of the same mold.” We are all created individually with specific gifts, talents, interests, preferences, etc. This is one of the beautiful parts of our world – how much diversity there is. Yes, we all have differing gifts and talents. Yes, we live in different communities and countries. But I believe this shows the creativity of God.

What this tells me is that we are all part of the same “body.” I also think of this as community of faith or universal church. The body of Christ is the church here on earth. Each part of the body has different functions, and this is what makes the body work.

The challenge I think we have today is to think about the diversity there is around us and how we are really all (hopefully) working toward the same goal. There are people we do not agree with; but this is an opportunity to be thankful and praise God for their gifts and talents being used to build the Kingdom of God here on earth. You and I have a great part to play, even though we may have different functions.

God should be praised daily for the diversity.

Self-Reflection

God has given each one of us gifts. How we utilize these gifts helps expand the Kingdom of God here on earth because we allow others to experience this life. One of our challenges is to be humble about our gifts and use them accordingly. This means that we should do some reflection of ourselves.

Romans 12:3 says, “Because of the grace that God gave me, I say to each one of you: don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think. Instead be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.” Humility. What exactly is this? Paul writes to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.

I believe we can easily have a false sense of humility. Often times, we hear people saying things to downgrade their performance or attire just show people don’t think they’re arrogant. The conversation would go something like this:

Person 1 : “You are an amazing artist!”

Person 2: “Well, you know, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Here we have a person giving a genuine complement and the other person trying not to take the complement. We do the same thing with clothes. “This old thing? I just pulled it out of the closet today and put it on.” What we are thinking through these conversations is “Heck yeah I’m awesome! Do you know how long I worked on this?” Or “I know this outfit makes me look good, that’s why I’m wearing it.”

To have a better sense of humility, we could know what we are good at and use it for the glory of God instead of giving ourselves praise and glory. So the reality is that humility is “not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” This means that we are drawn to give credit and attention to the One who gave us the abilities.

Another sense of the Romans 12:3 verse I have been thinking about deals with how we treat other people. If we are to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, then we should treat others as equals as well. God has given grace to those around us, even if we can’t see it. For us to live this way, we allow others the chance to share ideas, thoughts…basically life; and also we do not dismiss someone’s idea because it is not like ours.

Jesus Christ is asking us to live lives that reflect the God we serve, “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. (John 13:35 CEB)” and also “Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete. (Matthew 5:48 CEB)”

This is no small task. Can we do this on our own? Yes; but only for a very short while. We can accomplish this when we allow the Spirit of God into our lives to transform us and mold us into the new creations we were meant to be. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Truthfully, I do not live up to this as I would like. But we can all grown and learn together. How will you allow the Holy Spirit to transform you today and this week to make a difference in another person’s life so they can experience the Kingdom of God right here, right now?

What A Joy!

What a joy it is to wake up each day and see what the new day brings. Each day I wake up is a reminder to thank God for the opportunities that lie ahead, and thank God for His presence with us. This is truly a great gift.

What are some of the gifts you have been given? What would you say is your best gift? I asked these questions to some teenagers recently and I was actually surprised by their answers. They started off by saying things like forgiveness, love, family, friends, talents, humor, etc. Just when we think we have teenagers figured out, they go and say what they really value.

We all have special gifts we have been given by God and it is good for us to use them to work with God to help people live into the Kingdom of God here on earth. These gifts can probably be viewed as several things, but my encouragement for you and I today is to see how we can help people see and experience the Kingdom of God here and now and live into life. So, what gifts do you have that can be utilized for this?

I love this passage from the book of Romans. We’ll look into it for the next few days; but this is a glimpse of how we can begin to live our lives today. We get to work with God and the gifts given to us today. What a JOY!

Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful. ~Romans 12:3-8