In considering this tonight, 1 Corinthians 12 came to mind:
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized byc one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. .... 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” .... 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
(The full chapter is here.)
Of course, my current health makes this passage timely. But really, the idea that we all have spiritual gifts has been on my mind for a while. I'm a longtime proponent of women, as gifted members of the body, being utilized more. In fact, I struggle with that issue so much that I sometimes have to just squash my thoughts about it, afraid that that "cause" is distracting me from our real purpose: bringing others to Christ and glorifying our Father.
In recent months, as our church has begun an "Extreme Makeover" aimed at attracting more "unchurched" people to Christ, we've been asked to dream, to envision what our fellowship would look like if it's really reaching out to EVERYONE. My dream? A true Galatians 3:28 kind of church.
(Please excuse the term "unchurched." Here we're using it to mean people who have not been attending church. I'm not crazy about the word, but it beats "sinner" or "lost," since we all would fit that description. And "nonbeliever" doesn't really work since many who believe in God are not members of any church.)
What kind of people are we planning to attract? I look at my friends who don't attend church and wonder how they could see past our traditions to hear the Gospel. In fact, I've struggled to defend my own membership in a body that holds to this particular cultural tradition while abandoning so many others. I can't imagine many unchurched women my age, in my position, being OK with the way we "do church."
As a woman who has been immersed in our tradition my whole life, I'm bothered that in our services week after week, every single spoken voice we hear is male. Would that not be noticeable to someone who lives and works in a world where women regularly, you know, SPEAK? We live in a country where women are CEOs, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, etc. So in what dimension is someone who has studied leadership and who teaches others for a living told she is not worthy of a pulpit? Well, OURS, apparently.
We are the body of Christ. Why would we hold back not 5 percent, not 25 percent, but a full FIFTY PERCENT of our members? How can we justify squandering the gifts God has given us?
How can we truly reach the "unchurched" if we're not even using the full potential of the "churched"?