Last year, I took my 16-year-old to play in his first Rugby game. They are a new team in their first year of playing. The team they were up against was far more experienced and was scoring on them at will. At the end, the coach gathered the team and lectured them on team play. “If I hear any more of you complaining against each other we’re going home. “ He said, “Who here knows anything about this game besides me? That’s my point. I am the only one to tell any of you how he should be playing this game.”
This exchange got me thinking about the Church. We gather together in our groups and, like these players, we have opinions on how the Church is supposed to act, not only as a group but as individuals in the group. Criticism abounds and often it seems that the players only snipe at each other. It’s no wonder we stand on our flat feet and watch the other team score. Yet, God shows a different view of the Church.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the image of a body to illustrate the Church. Starting in verse 4, he writes: Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. The key point here is that there is diversity in the Church, and it is God who has arraigned it like that. He is the one who has designed the Church to be what it is. He has a plan and he is the one strategically working to accomplish it.
What foolishness it is to be on the field questioning the wisdom of the coach. What a waste of energy to be critical of others who, in fact, are there to do what the coach tells them to do, whether you understand it or not.
I want to also look at another statement in this section: 1Corinthians 12:27-28 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it. And God has placed in the church … The coach has placed in the church the individual members. You are one of the individuals he placed. As Jesus said, “I will build my Church”. He did not mess up or settle for inferior materials when he placed you on the team. You have something to offer to the team effort. God has so designed the Church that the very gates of Hell will not prevail against her.