‘Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.’ – 1 Cor 12:14 (NRSV)From James Griffin:
I wonder if you’ve ever been on a long ramble, like the annual St Pats’ walk from Oaks Park to Box Hill? Try and picture the scene. A large group of mixed ages with varying levels of enthusiasm(!) walking to an assigned destination many miles away. The terrain will vary from residential streets to parkland, woodland to hilly meadows. Sometimes the walkers will feel like they’re in familiar surroundings and at other times in places they’ve never been before. They’re all in it together – come what may!
Imagine you’re among the group. What might you observe?
You may notice a couple at the front, map in hand, plotting a route they consider best, concentrating hard on ‘getting there’, they’re taking into account the terrain and the weather. The few words they do say are mostly ‘information’ and you notice them topping up with food and fluid as per ‘best practice’. Occasionally they stop and wait for the less enthusiastic or slower walkers to catch up before turning again, head down and pushing on.
Perhaps you see others darting on and off the path, drawn by something of intrigue they see away from the crowd. They seem to have endless energy and enthusiasm and their detours mean they occasionally have to break into a jog to catch up. Perhaps they occasionally get told to “stick to the path!” but don’t seem to be sure as to why they should. They’ll get to the finish – because that’s what they set out to do – but they may well be a lot muddier on arrival!
Maybe you notice someone who seems to prefer to walk alone, perhaps making frequent stops to take in the view. You wonder what they’re thinking about. Maybe they’re questioning why they bothered to come on the walk? Maybe they really appreciate nature’s beauty? Perhaps they’re shy and don’t know how to ‘join in’? How will you know?!
Finally you notice a couple of people walking right at the back. Perhaps they’re not as agile as they used to be? Perhaps they’ve decided to spend a few hours listening to one another in the peace and quiet the back of the group affords? Maybe they’re quietly ensuring that no one gets left behind? Or maybe they’re just suited to being at the back!
I’ve been thinking how we often acknowledge specific gifts or skills people bring to the church body but wondering if we reflect enough on the character traits of those around us and what they might say to us about who God uses to build His Kingdom? We may find those around us irritating, confusing, challenging or even odd(!) and yet we’re on this journey together and with the Holy Spirit’s help, we may start to find each other more wonderful, intriguing, supportive or inspiring than we might imagine.