12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
I have a passion for this teaching. The implications run deep and wide and if accepted would revolutionize our thinking which would in turn revolutionize our churches and far beyond. Here is the teaching: Different is not just ok. It's better.
We resist different. We call different weird or worse wrong. We gather together in clusters of sameness. We feel safe in our cookie cutter thinking. It may be comfortable but deep down and sometimes not deep down at all we know something is wrong.
Consider this. Jesus was rejected by the establishment. John the Baptist was too although not to the same extreme and it took longer. When exposing this Jesus said: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
What can we learn from this? Jesus and John were on the same "team" doing the same "work" yet their approaches were nearly polar opposite. Clearly the method is not cookie cutter. The truth is it can't be. People are different therefore those called by God to reach people must be as diverse as society is. In addition not only are the individuals themselves different but the gifts God gives them to do what He has called them to do are also different.
Here is what I have observed in my 20 years in ministry. When God gives a person a gift and a passion for a certain ministry their greatest danger is to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else should have the same passion and not only the same passion but the same approach to that passion. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When Peter was told by Jesus the kind of future he was facing, Peter pointed to John and asked "What about him?" To that Jesus replied "What is that to you? You follow Me."
That's the core of everything. We must follow Jesus as an individual while recognizing and respecting the diverse ways others are being lead. Religion tends to make boxes and force everyone into a certain mold. For some religions they even prescribe a certain fixed way of dressing. This is not in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. Just look at nature. Did God make all the flowers and trees the same? Far from it.
Here is what we do all have in common. Our differentness in passions and gifts is for one purpose: To lift up Christ and bless others. We live to serve. We have gifts to be shared. We are the orchestra of His grace and He is the conductor. Play your part. If we all do the music will be awesome!