For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12: 4 – 8 NIV)
In Romans 12:4-8 Paul reminds the Christians in Rome that they belonged to each other. The Christian life is communal. He then goes on to remind them that one consequence of communal life is that every member has to play their part in the life of the church and they have been given different spiritual gifts to enable them to do so. Paul goes on to mention seven spiritual gifts. Did you notice that he put the gift of leadership second last? Most of us would have put leadership as gift number one. But Paul puts it second last because he wants to make a point. It’s not that leaders are less important. Importance in the body of Christ is not a zero sum game. Leaders are important, but so is everybody else. The point is the church, the body of Christ functions when all her members function.
I tried to make this point at a retreat I took recently with the audio-visual tech team of a major church. They named themselves “The Invisibles” and I can understand why. Think of your typical Sunday service. The eyes of the congregation are on the speaker and the worship team. The audio-visual (AV) team is somewhere behind. Nobody thinks of them. They are invisible. Yet their ministry enables the ministry in front to happen. Nobody thinks of the AV team — unless something goes wrong. When a wrong slide is shown or a mike doesn’t work, a groan goes up and people begin to look around. They turn their eyes to the AV control room. When things work, few notice the AV team or thank them. But when there is some technical glitch, people hold them responsible.
It gave me great joy to tell this great bunch of people what God thinks of them. They may be invisible to people, but they are not invisible to God. The Lord is aware of their sacrificial faithful service and He is pleased with them. When we all stand before the Lord one day, the critical importance of their contribution will be made clear.
We live in a world where some groups of people are considered more important than other groups. It is different in the Kingdom of God. No second class citizens here. We should take pains to remind each other to intentionally affirm all in the body of Christ, and appreciate their contributions whatever that might be. Thank God for the “invisibles” in our church!