Unity - What does it really mean?
Lessons from I Corinthians 12
The recent inaugural CME Unity Summit was held in New Orleans. The registrations included 2,008 persons attending as Bishops, Presiding Elders, Pastors, Christian Educators, Missionaries, Lay, Ushers, Young Adults, and many others. The meeting combined the General Connectional Board meeting, the CME Convocation and the WMC Executive Board. The Fabulous, Flourishing Fifth Episcopal District had 153 registered and more who attend a part of the Summit!
The purpose of the summit- UNITY of our various connectional meetings - became the subtheme of the meeting as the word UNITY was spoken as we preached, prayed, studied, deliberated and worshipped together. Often UNITY is a threat to some because there is the perception that UNITY means someone has to give up their identity. It is a threat to some because it means they have to change to make room for others. But, the scripture reminds us that there are many parts of the body of Christ:
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
The scripture reminds us that no one part of the body is more important than the other:
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Rather than perceiving UNITY as something that threatens or inconveniences us, it is important to remember that UNITY is something that strengthens! As we move further into this conference year, let us all examine how we will work for UNITY in the body of Christ, especially at the local church level. There is no need to compete with one another. There is enough work for everybody! There is no need to be jealous of what someone else is doing in the church. God has given each of us different gifts:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Are you using the gifts God gave you? But most important, are you using the gifts God gave you to build up the BODY of CHRIST?