EQUAL BUT DIFFERENT
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).
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
web site : www.brow.on.ca
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