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‘It takes all sorts!’

March 2016 | by Timothy Cross

‘It takes all sorts!’ This expression was sometimes heard in the railway office in which I once worked.

We were an exceedingly diverse work force. I used to sit opposite a Muslim lady, and we got on quite well. One or two of the work force weren’t long out of college, yet there was also an ex-army man who had ‘been there, seen it and done it’.

One or two male colleagues were real railway buffs; their work was their hobby as well as their living. Another man kept reptiles. My main hobby was, as it still is, running. The colourful characters working for the railways sometimes made me feel rather ordinary. But, ‘it takes all sorts!’

The disciples: diversity in unity

If it takes all sorts to make a world, the Bible reveals that it also takes all sorts to make up the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus initially chose twelve disciples, and these too were very diverse characters.

Peter was somewhat impetuous. Andrew, his brother, was a quieter man, yet possessed of the gift of gentle persuasion. Thomas was perhaps somewhat morose by nature. James and John were fishermen, and Matthew was originally a tax collector, in league with Rome, the foreign, occupying power.

Simon the Zealot, however, was a Jewish nationalist, all for overthrowing Rome by force. The table talk of these disciples, therefore, must have been interesting, and no doubt sometimes got heated.

The disciples were diverse, and yet they were all one in their friendship with Jesus. He had called them; he eventually transformed them. They became ambassadors for Christ, fearless evangelists and compassionate pastors of Christ’s flock.

John, the one-time fisherman, eventually wrote an incomparable Gospel. His account of Jesus’ sayings and signs proved to the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that eternal life is found by believing in him. The grace of God in Christ brought out abilities John never knew he had.

The church: diversity in unity

Interestingly, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul likens the church of Christ to the human body, with Christ as its head. The human body is also both diverse but one.

And so Paul writes in Romans 12:4ff.: ‘For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them’.

Then in 1 Corinthians 12:14ff., he writes, ‘For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body.

‘And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body”, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?’

What is Paul saying? Paul is enjoining us to respect our individuality and be the unique people God has created us to be. We all have a particular role and function in the greater plan of God. True happiness consists in finding the role and function for which we have been designed by God, and then fulfilling that role and function to his praise and glory.

In the church of the Lord Jesus Christ every single individual has a niche, a particular part to play. Every single individual — and not just the church leaders — has a sphere of service.

Purpose

God saves us for a purpose: ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:10); ‘as each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen’ (1 Peter 4:10ff.).

It takes all sorts

So ‘it takes all sorts to make a world’. The expression is not found in the Bible, and yet the diversity of the church shows that the expression is true.

You are the only you! Seek to be the person God made you to be. Seek to fulfil the unique function God has for you — nothing more, nothing less and nothing else — for anything else will only lead to frustration.

‘There’s a work for Jesus

Ready at your hand.

’Tis a task the Master

Just for you has planned.

Haste to do his bidding,

Yield him service true.

There’s a work for Jesus

None but you can do.’

Timothy Cross has written many Christian books and articles and has an honorary doctorate from Christian Bible College, Rocky Mount, NC (www.TimothyJCross.org)