1 Cor 13:1
If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
This morning my reading prompt was from Romans anddiscussed the mercy and grace of God. One verse referred to us (Christians) as being part of one body. I glossed over it, after all I had the concept down…. but then tried to read my verses aloud and found it strangely standing out in importance.
Rom 12:4-5 (CSV) says, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” This is proceeded by the verse warning against thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. I pondered the significance of this warning when it seemed to me that there was no impending consequence to warn off. Hmm… when in ponderance (not sure that’s a word…) I try a different translation!
Rom 12:4-6 (MSG) says, “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
Well then, that helps! Hence the warning suddenly has more weight. I think the point may be to suggest that if we start viewing what we are “adding” to the body in our self-importance verses our identity coming from our place “within” the body we lose sight of the true picture Christ is trying to present.
In high school, I had a variety of sports injuries. No, not because I was super-athletic in my younger years, but more so because I was especially clumsy and didn’t have the coordination when it came to PE. So, I ended up with broken fingers, toes, an arm, etc. Once when I had a broken finger, it coincided with our band’s first trip to a major competition. We would be going to Georgia, and I was to play a challenging part on flute. Well, then I broke my finger, and being so gracious as to not leave me out, the band director allowed me to play temporary percussion – specifically, to use the cymbals in the competition. I was terrified. For good reason too, as when it came time for the finale of the piece, I clashed my ginormous cymbals one measure too soon! Ackkk, total mortification. But, complete… ok well minor recovery, as I repeated my dramatic clash at the actual end of the piece.
A clanging cymbal, or resounding gong is completely self-dramatizing without the entire band playing the piece in congruency to produce the desired sound and effect. It never occurred to me before today that these two different verse references are very much buddies in terms of their point. Meaning that we have a responsibility to the other “body parts”aside from performing our own role. Not because of some form of “metaphorical superglue” that lays within our own individual participation, but in fact because we owe it to the body (Christ) to sync up and suck up our individual feeling for the sake of that same body. If you are focused on being awesome for God, and not simultaneously loving the other parts of His body (and no, it is not your place to rate their performance), you are clanging a gong without the context of the band. Or even more graphic, you are a cut off finger or hand (think Addam’s Family, lol) snapping along to a beat, sans the other essential body parts.These verses go into great detail about what love is and looks like, truly giving a symphonic approach to what it means to bring glory to God. And after all, isn’t that how He made us? To gloriously come together for His purpose and pleasure? So for me, I have to start viewing other members of the band in love… even when they clash the cymbal too soon.
In school we had to take a class on economics. I’ll admit, I felt fairly confident about the subject matter – I understood the basic principles and had already been experiencing working in retail including marketing and advertising. But as the class progressed, and specifically after a group project gone bad, I started to reconsider my initial brush-off of understanding. I recognized that I had no clue why it didn’t make sense. It was infuriating. How could I not understand something, where, at its core was just about production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services? I mean, it really just comes down to valuation of items, right? Well, hahahaha economics class…. I still went on to a successful retail management career, and now I am co-owner of a small business. Plthhhhhhhhhh!
But as I reflect on this past experience of not just misunderstanding, but moreover not comprehending the valuation methods, I also see the connection to my faith. We are humanly drawn to try to evaluate and size up situations… as well as people. I don’t just mean figuring out what box to put someone in, although that is a fleshly problem, but also considering whether and to what measure someone or something is worth. I’ve noticed more and more tools out there that are designed to help people feel “in control” of their buying experiences. You can go online and compare what someone else paid, who someone else paid, and whether their review leads you to believe they were happy to have paid it. The functionality and “worthiness” of an item has entire marketing groups of companies devoted to managing the buying experience. So... with all this around us, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to also view our experience with God under similar scrutiny. I don’t mean the opinion we take of Him, but actually the view He takes of us.
1 Cor. 6:20 reminds us, “you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies”.
1 Cor. 7:23 echoes this with saying, “God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world”.
Gal. 3:13 talks about how God “bought us with His blood”, and verse 14 reiterates the “high price Jesus paid”.
There are in fact a huge number of verses in both Old and New Testament giving description to the purchasing of us by our Lord. So, from these terms, and our basic understand of value from our own economics and currency, it does make sense for there to be some complications in our casual thinking of this crucial faith transaction. Let’s look at a few right now.
1. We are not a tax write-off for God. We do not depreciate in value due to use.
2. There is no Kingdom market value. We cannot lose or increase in value because of what the world around us is doing.
3. Our purchase is already settled. There was no negotiation in price. God purchased each of us through the crucifixion of His only son, and did not offer anything low-ball because of His foreknowledge of our individual sin. He knew what He was getting!
4. God did not check any apps to verify our value before He planned the purchase. He chose us and called us each by name- not only did He know what He was getting, He wanted us.
5. And here’s a biggie… God made us, then we walked, then He bought us back. Let that sink in. Read Hosea. Consider what it means to value something so much that you didn’t just put into it once, but bought it again.
6. We are not an item on layaway. Yes, there was a deposit (Holy Spirit!!!!! [2 Cor. 1:22]), but God paid in full. Even on our worst days, He’s not bummed about our value, and wishing He could return us to stock.
7. And finally, the only devaluing we have is the kind that Satan wishes for us to do to ourselves. God sees us with favor. (Eph. 1:4-6)
You are valued in God. All you were, all you are, and all that you will be to come. If He sees such a high value in us, why do we shame ourselves into thinking He might be wrong? Live today like you know your worth. Child of the Most High God!
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.