In the King James version of the Bible the word “manifold” is often used. This is a word meaning complex, diverse, or varied, and it is used to describe God’s mercies (Nehemiah 9:27), His works (Psalm 104:24), His wisdom (Ephesians 3:10) and His grace (1 Peter 4:10).
Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, has these same manifold characteristics and, as His Body, the church is to emulate Him. Thus, ideally, we are a manifold body; made up of many parts (1 Corinthians 12:11-13) all working together for the glory of God. Christ’s body parts are varied in ethnicity, culture, nationality, race, color, political leanings and worship style, but all make up one body.
In the old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, the second verse says:
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
These words tell of the parts of creation testifying to God’s unchanging faithfulness in each part’s own unique way, but all joined together in praise of God’s great faithfulness, mercy and love. What a beautiful analogy for the witness of a diverse but united church.
The divisive culture of today needs the antidote of just such a witness.