1 Corinthians 12:27-31
Something to read
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Paul sums up his analogy of the church of the Body of Christ by listing the various offices within it. However, there is a catch. He is not, as it may seem, establishing a slate of officers that every church needs. In fact, it is a critique of the chaos at the Corinthian church where a fugue of voices from prophets, apostles, teachers and miracle workers would be vying for attention.
The point is that all members are needed as all have different gifts given to them by God, but that no one is better than anyone else. He then proceeds in Chapter 13 with his 'more excellent way' - which is the way of love itself.
This gets back to an issue of titles in the church and in life. It is remarkable that Jesus cared little for titles and warned his disciples that they should do likewise. Paul also is not impressed with titles and he refers to himself as the 'least of the apostles' further on in chapter 15 verse 9. Yet we humans often love titles. Titles give us status. Status gives us access, and access gives us power.
Something to do
Think about what it would be like to not have any status. No job title, no titles given by universities or any other authority. Now, realise that 80% of the world lives in poverty. They by and large have no titles as they have no access to anything that would provide them. Since they have no access, they have no power.
To have no status or standing is to share the powerless of the majority of the human race.
Something to pray
A prayer of Voltaire (1694-1778)
O thou God of all beings, of all worlds, and of all times,
We pray, that the little differences in our clothes,
in our inadequate languages,
in our ridiculous customs,
in our imperfect laws,
in our illogical opinions,
in our ranks and conditions which
are so disproportionately important to us
and so meaningless to you,
that these small variations
that distinguish those atoms that we call human beings,
one from another,
may not be signals of hatred and persecution.
Today's contributor is the Rev James Matarazzo Jr, a United Church of Christ (USA) minister from Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to London in 2007. Jim is a founding member of INERELA+ (International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS), a Christian Aid partner. He is now working on a DPhil in Systematic Theology at Oxford University.