1 Corinthians 12?13
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body - whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Have you ever felt ostracized? Maybe a friend invited you to a party where you knew nobody and then failed to show up; you felt awkward and out-of-place, especially when no one there even seemed to notice you. Or, perhaps, you were moved to a different department or team at your job and your new co-workers, resentful of the change, chose to ignore you as often as possible.
One vivid memory I have of being shunned was when my family moved toward the end of my third grade year, and I had to transfer to a new school. With the cliques and best friends already carved in stone when I arrived, the children barely acknowledged my existence; they were not about to make the effort to chisel me into their lives. Those were the longest, most miserable weeks before summer I ever spent in school.
In today's verse, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that ostracism hurts. It has no place in the church where everyone has been baptized by the same spirit and each is an integral part of the body of Christ. Tragically, too many modern day churches fail to heed Paul's timeless advice.
The newcomer, already nervous and anxious about visiting a new place of worship, is greeted not by bright smiles and hands extended in welcome, but by judgmental stares and hardened faces.
A loyal and long-time member goes through a divorce, and the very church friends he was depending upon for support turn their backs.
The spiritual seeker who asks too many questions deemed wrong by the powers-that-be is bullied out of the congregation.
The bag lady, homeless and destitute, who pushes the cart which holds her life into the narthex, hoping to find warmth against a freezing winter's day and, perhaps, a friendly word or a steaming cup of coffee, receives, instead, a cold and distant shoulder.
With churches like this, who, in their right mind, would ever desire to be a Christian in community? Who would desire to know the love of a Savior?
Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us your gift of salvation through your precious Son who gave his body that we might become one body with Him. Make us ever mindful that every human being is Your child, deserving respect and dignity and love. So grow the church in the truth of your Word and in the Holy Spirit that it ever shines a beacon of light to a weary world shrouded in darkness, and welcomes all to worship Your glorious name. Amen.
Psalms 140, 142 or 141, 143
2 Kings 23:36-24:17
1 Corinthians 12:12-25
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