by Michael L. King
John Henry Newton wrote, “I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: ‘Go down again — I dwell among the people.'”
It is an amazing concept that God would see fit to entrust his Word to the custodial care of “earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Each vessel is unique and serviceable in its own way. The diversity of persons, not teachings, contributes to the strength and outreach of the “body” in that it “has many members,” none of which fulfill the same role.
Bruce Barton wrote, “If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world, it will come through the expression of your own personality …” When one reads the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians, inspiration is found establishing the premise from which Mr. Barton wrote. The strongest asset that we have in communicating the Gospel, not considering the Word of God itself, is our own person. What a challenge it is to insure that we are the right kind of person!
What a beautiful picture Paul painted in his letters to the Roman and Corinthian brethren regarding the nature of the Lord’s church! That spiritual body is but a composite of beautiful people merging their various strengths and talents to honor and glorify the Lord, in addition to being a blessing to humanity.
There are no insignificant members in the body of Christ. Each, though some are “more uncomely,” is vital to the body (1 Corinthians 12:23). The inference is that those we think to be less honorable are given more abundant honor “to that part which lacked” (verse 24).
During the Middle Ages much emphasis was given to the “clergy and laity” issue. In part, the Reformation Movement was fueled by these distinctions. Elders, deacons, and preachers are not “above” anyone in the church today. They are merely men who have dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ in a leadership capacity. To serve in this capacity is not a function of arrogance, but of considerably increased responsibility and answerability. Those who assume the responsibility of leadership and teaching shall “receive the greater judgment” (James 3:1). Each member, regardless of the role they fulfill in the body of Christ, is but a member and is to be found “Submitting … one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).
The Lord taught in his parables that when “… ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). The statement has been made that “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” That is where we should be, none standing taller or more important than the next; we are all in the presence of the Almighty and Eternal God!
True servants lose themselves in the greatest effort known to mankind. Peter and the apostles were beaten by the Sanhedrin for preaching Jesus and left “the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). So, when we have finished our life of service here on earth and honored the commands of God, we must still see ourselves only as “unprofitable servants,” not desiring to be exalted merely because of the accolades of our accomplishments.
Remember, God dwells among the people, but is not to be found in those who have exalted themselves high on the pinnacle of self-indulgence and recognition. Jesus challenged the conventional by declaring, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). He also implored people to come unto him, for he was “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:28).
In many cases, “We are the only Bible the careless world will ever read. What if the line is crooked? What if the type is blurred?” Jesus promised, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). It stands to reason that dwelling among his people is the means by which he can fulfill his promise. Is he being represented properly through your life?
God has entrusted his Gospel to us.