September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”—1 Corinthians 12:21–26 (NIV)
One of the most toxic trends that has infected our society in recent years is the phenomenon better known as “cancel culture.” For those who may not be familiar with the term, it’s a common occurrence that happens frequently on social media when a person (often a celebrity or public figure) says something that goes against currently accepted societal norms and is then shunned by their community or the public at large.
Why do I bring up cancel culture in the context of today’s reading? Because in his first letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul was making a case for unity within the body of Christ, particularly as it relates to spiritual gifts. Sadly, depending upon the faith tradition or denomination in which you grew up or currently subscribe to, the question of spiritual gifting can be a very divisive topic within the Church, and the tendency—even among Christians—is to become dismissive, acting more like the world than as brothers and sisters in the family of God.
In the Enduring Word Bible commentary, author David Guzik notes that the topic of spiritual gifts has divided the body of Christ theologically and spiritually. “There are some who think those who believe all the gifts are for today (usually called ‘Charismatics’ or ‘Pentecostals’) are deceived by Satan. There are others who think those who believe some of the gifts are no longer given are unspiritual and dead in their walk with God.”
As it relates to the revival that began at Asbury College in February of 2022, for example, many outspoken critics looked on via social media and denounced what they saw as heresy. Others (including myself) rejoiced at the sight of students repenting of their sins, praying to God, and worshipping Him for weeks on end.
What I think Paul would say to the Church today is this: There’s no room for cancel culture in the body of Christ. We cannot dismiss our brothers and sisters in other denominations who have different theological viewpoints than we do. We cannot disown those who belong to God’s family (if indeed they believe Jesus is the sinless Savior of the world who died on a cross for the sins of the world and was resurrected on the third day as the only means of salvation). To Paul’s point, one part of the body cannot tell another that it has no use or value, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. Rather, we should look for opportunities to honor those who are proclaiming the name of Jesus, even if our differences seemingly outweigh our similarities. When they’re in pain, we should feel their pain and offer to help carry the burden too.
Church, let’s not allow cancel culture to infect the body of Christ. Let’s cultivate a culture and community of concern, humility, and honor among us so the watching world would know we belong to Jesus because of our love for one another (John 13:35).
Pause: Take a moment to consider how you feel about unity in the body of Christ. Is there a person or group that comes to mind that you have an issue with? Is there someone you’ve written off for one reason or another?
Practice: Take a moment to invite the Holy Spirit to do a work in your heart, and then pray for that person or group that maybe you’ve viewed as “lesser than.”
Pray: Heavenly Father, help me to see others the way You do, as equal and valuable members of Christ’s Church. Give me a servant’s heart to share in the burdens and sufferings of others, honoring the image of God that they bear within them. Amen.
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.