First published by St. John's Lutheran Church Writing Team on January 25, 2004.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?”
1 Corinthians 12:17 (NRSV)
Across the country, numerous sermons delivered this January address the importance of diversity and inclusiveness. Most of this thrust is based on the Apostle Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians in 57 A.D. Christians must work together as one body. These instructions were expanded upon 1006 years later by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like Paul, King emphasized that the Church has the potential to be one powerful body in Christ, only when all people are embraced and empowered to claim their membership in the body.
According to King, modern day Christians are to be as extreme in carrying out this obligation as Paul, as Amos, as Martin Luther and other catalytic disciples. Yet Sunday is the most racially divided day of the week in America. Despite the instructions of Paul and the guidance of King, churchgoers still find comfort in worshipping on their own, with their own, for their own, and by their own. Under-utilization of the full anatomy of the Church hinders the talents of a congregation and handicaps the earthly body of Christ.
If the body of today’s Church remains separated, where will the wholeness, sensitivity, and appreciation for God’s creation and hand-crafted artistry be? If the body of today’s Church remains exclusive, where will the wholeness, courage, and appreciation for God’s love and inclusive fellowship be? If the body of tomorrow’s Church remains divided, where will the wholeness, understanding, and appreciation for God’s faith in us and future of the Church be?
Lord grant us the sensitivity to embrace diversity and welcome all to our places of worship. Amen
To what degree do I show my appreciation for the diversity of God’s people, my sisters and brothers in Christ?
Written by Bobbretta Brewton