Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work powerful deeds? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
The metaphor of the body is so helpful for us to understand how the diversity of the Church can function together in unity. The only problem is that (if you’re like me, anyway), you probably imagine yourself as the strong right arm or the discerning eye or perhaps even the brain or the heart. Nobody imagines himself to be a nostril hair or a sweat gland. (Both are extremely important to a healthy body, by the way.)
The same can be said for the spiritual gifts. We would (or at least, I would) like to imagine ourselves as the hero of the story. We’re the ones who can stand in front and part the sea or speak wisely with important people. If we’re going to have a spiritual gift, we ought to have a really dramatic and impressive one, like prophecy. Other gifts, like patience or humility, don’t seem as important or cool.
Whatever our gifts, they are given to us by God for His glory and His purpose. As soon as we begin comparing our gifts, we are seeking our own glory. Maybe we’re not Luke Skywalker after all. Maybe we’re a member of the Cantina band and we only get three seconds of screen time. The point is not to have the coolest or most visible gift but to recognize what our gift truly is, to develop it, and to use it for God’s glory. The body can only truly be healthy if the nostril hairs function as filters and don’t attempt to be eyes. If we are to accept our status as members of a body greater than our individual selves, we must give ourselves up.