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Does One Still Mean One?

The story is told about a worker who, after asking for a pay raise, received this note back from his supervisor: "Because of the fluctuation predisposition of your position's productive capacity as juxtaposed to standard norms, it would be momentarily injudicious to advocate your requested increment." The puzzled worker went to the Supervisor and said, "If this is about my pay raise, I don't get it." The supervisor said simply, "That's right." Sometimes a really simple message can get lost in verbal sophistication and baggage. Take the message of l' Corinthians 12:13 for instance. That verse reads simply, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit." The church of Christ at first century Corinth was many-membered and multi-cultural! The inspired man who wrote the letter of 1' Corinthians affirmed that there was room in the church for Jew and Greek, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian and Scythian, slave and free, male and female (Colossians 3:11; Galatians 3:28). These groups included every race and every rank of people that comprised first century Roman/Greek society. The church at Corinth was a diverse group of people from many different backgrounds and strata on the social scale. The congregation was multi-cultural in every true sense of the word. Its membership was very complex.

What was not complex at Corinth was the message and means by which diverse kinds of people came into the church. The verse quoted above says simply "by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." While Paul preached there were many different members at Corinth, he insisted they all got into the body of Christ the same way. They were baptized into one body! All of them. Read it again. Every member at Corinth, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free — all of them were baptized. So the apostle says. Not into two bodies or ten or a hundred. Into one body. Read Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18, 24 and Ephesians 4:4a and you will learn from this same apostle what that body was — the spiritual body of Jesus Christ — the church. At Corinth, Paul allowed that there were many diverse members of the body of Christ with a multiplicity of cultural and ethnic and social backgrounds. What he would not allow was that there was more than one body they could get into, or that there was more than one way to get into that one body. These days, religious pluralism is all the rage, claiming all religious paths and practices are good. It is preached, even among believers in Jesus, that there are many different bodies and baptisms and faiths and that we are free to attend and join the church of our choice. The Bible's simple message that there is "one body. . .one Spirit. .one hope. . .one Lord. . .one faith. . .one baptism. . .and one God" (Ephesians 4:4-6) is not popular, and it is certainly does not represent the will of the majority. But the critical question remains• is it the will of God? Does one still mean one, or has God changed His mind?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ