Monday, April 21, 2008

Sudden Urges to Love

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul says that it is the Holy Spirit who has baptized all sorts of people into one body. And he insists that a body must have different members, different parts. If it doesn’t have different parts it’s not a body. But the tragedy in many churches is that we tend to do the very thing that Paul says not to do. He says not all believers are eyes, not all believers are feet or arms, and he insists that that’s a good thing, otherwise where would the body be if we were just a collection of right thumbs? But we tend to get suspicious of other body parts, we get suspicious of differences, and all the thumbs tend to band together in one congregation and peer doubtfully over at the church across the street with all the elbows. But Paul says that the Holy Spirit knits the body of Christ together; it is the Holy Spirit that makes eyes, joints, ligaments, livers, and knee caps to come together and function in harmony as one body. In our own strength and if left to ourselves, people attract like people: it’s more comfortable to hang out with people who have similar backgrounds, have similar interests, and are pursuing similar goals. But Paul says that’s easy. Anyone can do that. But God is at work knitting together a body full of opposites, a body of slaves and slave masters, a body of Gentiles and Jews, a body of people that aren’t usually supposed to get along or associate, much less like one another. And that’s how you know the Spirit is at work; that’s how you know this isn’t just another social club. Anyone can get a bunch of similar people to like each other, but only the Holy Spirit can get opposites to attract; only the Holy Spirit can make a family out of enemies and teach them to love one another. And that’s why it’s no accident that Paul goes immediately from talking about how different we are to the fact that the greatest gift of the Spirit is love. That’s how you know the Holy Spirit is filling and empowering you because you find yourself having sudden urges to love people you previously would have avoided like the plague.

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