Both Different and the Same

In the Body of Christ we are all different by design. God has apportioned to each of us a manifestation, or visible, knowable part, to contribute to the health and growth of the Body. Yet, despite all these differences, we are one Body, with the same God who intends for us to use our varying spiritual gifts for the same purpose … for the common good. (See 1 Cor. 12:7.)

Diversity of Gifts & Ministry

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Let’s break down 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 to see what enables us to be both different and the same in the Body of Christ.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4)

Diversity of Spiritual Gifts: The word for gifts is charisma, the root word being charis, meaning “grace.” The gifts are not only distributed on the basis of grace (Rom. 12:6) but enable us to dispense His grace in its various forms (1 Pet. 4:10). We call them “spiritual gifts” because they are given by the Spirit.

Same Spirit: The different gifts are given to each person by the same source, the Holy Spirit, as He deems best (1 Cor. 12:11), not on the basis of merit so we have no grounds for comparing or competing with one another.

— Hence, we have different gifts received on the same basis (grace) with the same purpose (to dispense His grace) by the same Spirit.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (1 Cor. 12:5)

Different Ways of Serving: Even people with the same spiritual gift could find themselves serving in different ways from each other.

Same Lord:  Kyrios means master, the one who decides, often used of Jesus (i.e., the Lord Jesus). He is the Head of the church from whom we get our instructions. We are not the ones who should be determining how we serve but rather the Lord.

— Hence, we have different ways of serving all coming under the direction and coordination of the same Lord so we serve the same Master.

There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (1 Cor. 12:6)

Distinct Effects: The word for working is energema suggesting what has been wrought. The word “works” is energeo from which we get the word energy, putting forth power. Consequently as we use our different spiritual gifts, serving in different ways, God is the One who will bring about distinct effects by His power for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7), not us, so we have no basis for one part elevating itself above the other.

Same God: This references the One True God (theos) who by His very character is sovereign and powerful, a creative God who has every right to use vessels for whatever purpose He chooses (Rom. 9:20-21).

— Hence, though we serve in our differing ways using varying gifts, we are all beholden to the same God to bring the growth as we submit to Him (1 Cor. 3:7-9; Eph. 4:16).

Yes, we are different but notice that we serve in accordance with, because of, and by the same Spirit, Lord, and God.  Could the use of these three different names, if kyrios references the Lord Jesus, be the Trinity at work in the Church? If so, it provides us with a good illustration. Just as they are three distinct, or different, Beings, yet One and the Same, so in the Body of Christ we have different kinds of gifts to serve in different ways to bring about different effects but are united by that same Spirit, Lord, and God working in and through us for the common good. As such, we can be both different and the same in the Body of Christ.

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