The string of teachings on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians hinges on Paul’s understanding of what the church is. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:17, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, . . .” The church is the body of Christ, a display of the Gospel. Eph. 3:10 also says God’s intent is to make known through the church His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
How does God display His wisdom through the church? Eph. 2:14-19 says it is by the Lord Jesus creating in Himself one new man instead of two, tearing down the wall of hostility between the Jews and Gentiles, transforming former enemies into members of the same family through the cross. This was a mystery hidden in ages past but revealed to us now in the Gospel. It is the reason Paul exhorted the Corinthians to serve not themselves but one another. It is as Christ commanded us in John 13:34-35, to love one another that others may know we are His disciples. This unity is the most powerful testimony and evangelistic strategy of the church. Do we believe this?
It is a unity not based on the commonality of interests, goals, purposes, life stages, or any other homogenous principle that successful organizations are built on. It is not another tower of Babel. This is a unity Christ’s love for us alone can produce. It is supernatural. It transcends our differences, diversities and inclinations to love only those like us.
What enables us to grow such love for one another? Remember Christ’s word to Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:47 that the one who has been forgiven much loves much, and the one who is forgiven little loves little. Our ability to love is directly proportional to our realisation of God’s forgiveness.
Hence, we can grow to become more loving, only as we grow to know more deeply what Christ has done for us at the cross. To build a community reflecting Christ’s love, we need to return to the Gospel. So let us ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, who alone can open our minds and hearts to understand Christ’s atonement, to realise the depth of our sin, and the extent of God’s forgiveness. Let us ask that we may have more of His grace, to become a community pointing to His glory in the Gospel.