Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:13-27

"That there should be no schism in the body, each member should have the same care for each other" (1 Cor 12:25)
We continue our meditation on the need for and the means to achieve unity of heart and purpose among us as God's children.

 Recognise and respect the strengths of others.

Instead of recognizing the strengths of others, we normally criticize their weaknesses. No wonder we all suffer discouragement. When Paul realized that God had primarily called him to evangelize the Gentile world, he recognized that Peter was specifically equipped to reach the Jewish community (Gal 2:8).

Similarly Peter acknowledged the rich Bible teaching ministry of Paul (2 Pet 3:15,16). Lack of such mutual recognition will lead us to overlapping, duplication and competition resulting in rivalry. What a lesson we learn from Joab the military commander of Israel! He told his brother Abishai, "If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, But if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will come and help you... Be of good courage and let us be strong for our people and the cities of our God" (2 Sam 10:10-12). One's strength helps in the weakness of the other. "Iron sharpens iron" (Prov 27:17).

Evangelicals are strong in the exposition of the "Word." Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants are good in "deeds" of charity. Pentecostals are mighty in "signs." None of these three can get the job done alone. Only when all the three come together, we can witness the sweeping influence of the Gospel to bring non-Christians to faith and obedience. The Pauline method was to combine all these three in missionary evangelism (Rom 15:18,19).

 Relate freely with para-Church organisations.

All through Church history God has used para-church organisations as a link between Churches of various denominations. This is because of the interdenominational or transdenominational nature of such organisations. The word "para" throws many pastors off gear. The Holy Spirit was named by Christ as "Para-clete," which simply means "one called alongside to help." It's a Greek word. Technicians, nurses and therapists are called Para-medicals. Certain things they can definitely do better than doctors. This should not make doctors feel threatened or insecure. Para-church organisations are not a substitute but a supplement to the local churches. Encouraging congregations work together with such organisations for at least common worthwhile programmes will break the ice!

R. Stanley