by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)    Aurora, Ontario         May 2008

 "Equal" only has a precise meaning in mathematics. In all other
 matters the word can cause confusion, but especially in Christian
 In a football team all the players share equally in both victory and
 defeat. But you cannot say that every member of the team must have an
 equal opportunity to be the quarter back or the kicker. Similarly
 every church member is meant to be equally loved and equally
 respected, but it would be disastrous if equality meant that all
 claimed the right to be the soloist or the preacher.
 The Roman Catholic hierarchy is organized like an army. You can
 recognize each person's rank by his clothes and headdress. Lay people
 are under the authority of the priests. Priests submit to bishops, and
 bishops are equal among themselves but all are subordinate to the
 Pope. Many denominations try to avoid this kind of hierarchy by
 claiming that all Christians are equal, but it is very hard to avoid
 distinctions of rank.
 A church congregation is a family. On the one hand there is a sense of
 oneness, but this allows each to develop in different ways.
 The church in a city is composed of many gatherings of Christians.
 Between them they exhibit a huge variety of functions. Those who
 exercise leadership will be as different in character as apostles,
 prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). Other
 members will have spiritual gifts such as the speaking of wisdom and
 knowledge, exercising faith, praying for healing, discernment, tongues
 and their interpretation (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). In the early
 churches there were Jews, Greeks and Barbarians, rich and poor. There
 were also husbands and wives, children and parents, slaves and slave
 owners (Ephesians 5:21-6:9). Their functions were different, but each
 was to submit to the other (1 Corinthians 7:1-16).

Robert Brow
e-mail : browr@brow.on.ca
web site : www.brow.on.ca

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