[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
To those who feel superior, Paul writes:
"The eye can never say to the hand, 'I don't need you.' The head can't say to the feet, 'I don't need you.' And some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary......So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honour and care are given to those parts that might otherwise seem less important.....Now here is what I am trying to say: All of you together are the one body of Christ and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it (1 Cor. 12:21-27-TLB).
There are some conceited snobs in the church who feel they are more important than their fellow-believers. They consider their ministry to be more necessary to the Body than that of others. Of course they never express their feelings lest they be considered proud, but their actions and attitudes give them away. Such spiritual pride not only ruins them spiritually, but also rings the death-knell of true fellowship.
The eye is a very important part of the human body and has a significant function to perform. But if (to continue the analogy) it despises the hand saying, "I don't need you", then it has misunderstood its function in the body altogether.
So with anyone who considers his ministry more important than another's. Our hearts are so deceptive that we can easily fool ourselves into thinking that we are called to be spiritual leaders and prophets among God's people. Those who fall into this trap then covet to be elders in churches and leaders in Christian organizations. They feel superior to others and are like a cancer in the Body of Christ.
No one is indispensable in God's work. When Elijah complained to God that he was the only one prophet standing true to God in the land of Israel, the Lord told him to go and anoint Elisha to replace him as prophet (1 Kings 19:14-16). Perhaps this was to teach Elijah that God would never be without men whom He could use. Even the great Elijah was not irreplaceable.
No one is indispensable in Christ's Body.
On the other hand, no one is dispensable either. The Bible says that all the members are necessary.
But we have first to recognize that we are dispensable, before we can become truly indispensable. We are most needed in the Body of Christ when we have realised our nothingness. Whenever someone feels that God's work in a certain place will not carry on without him, the truth usually is that the work would be far better off without him!
God's work is dependent on the corporate ministry of the Body of Christ - not on any one individual. In fact, the individual who tries to do everything himself is a positive hindrance to the work of God - for he leaves no room for others to function.
The eye is an important organ, but if the whole body were just one big eye such a body would be quite useless. Thus, when a church or Christian organization centres around the ministry of one man (however gifted he may be), it ceases to be an expression of the Body of Christ. Such a group actually becomes a hindrance to the work of God. However impressive the statistics may be, churches that centre around one gifted leader or pastor, do not fulfill their God-ordained function. True Christian fellowship is impossible in such a situation.
When one cell in the body grows into a size far beyond what God intended for it, it can only do so by crushing the life out of other cells in the process. This is cancer and, untreated it always kills the body.
This, alas, is the situation in many Christian organizations and churches. The believers therein are not able to grow spiritually because of the overpowering personality of one man in their midst. They are like small mushrooms growing under the shade of a mighty oak tree, that seldom see the sunlight themselves.
Let those who have an outstanding spiritual gift take note: You are more likely to hinder the growth of other believers than those with mediocre gifts. You are more likely to kill true fellowship than other less-talented brethren. Besides, you are in danger of making members of Christ's Body more dependent on yourself than on Christ the Head.
If we do not allow others to fulfil their ministry, we violate one of the fundamental laws of the Body. The Bible exhorts everyone of us to regard others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). We may not be able, in all honesty, to consider everyone as more spiritual than ourselves, and the Bible does not urge false humility. What we are asked to do is to consider others as more important. Surely we can all do this - if we see our place and the place of others in the same body.
This does not mean that all the gifts of the Spirit are of equal value to the upbuilding of the Body. The Bible itself tells us that some gifts are of greater value than others (1 Cor. 14) and we are told to "earnestly desire the greater gifts" (1 Cor. 12:31). All believers have a definite contribution to make to the ministry of the Body, but those who have been given a more useful gift by God (in His sovereignty) will naturally be able to make a more significant contribution. The fact that some have a more outstanding gift is not inconsistent with the fact of the equality of all believers - for equality does not mean uniformity.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon