Lord, thank You for making me a part of Your Body here on earth.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 12:21–31a
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
When you stub your toe in the middle of the night, doesn’t the rest of the body respond immediately and instinctively to such a seemingly insignificant body part?
The imagery that Paul uses throughout this chapter of the fragile and emerging community of disciples in Corinth as “the body of Christ” (27) is remarkable. In the previous chapter we heard similar language in the warning that partaking of communion “without discerning the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:29) brings God’s judgment. In this passage, the reference is to the church: those who parade their wealth and status at the Lord’s Table are evidently blind to the reality of the new community within which such distinctions are obliterated and “each one of you is a part” of the body of the Lord (27).
Wonderful as this imagery is, it contains a sobering challenge. Christ’s body was given over to death, even death on a cross. His destiny in a broken and evil world was to be crucified and buried. Might this suggest that membership in the new community, while resulting in indescribable joy, also places the disciple in a realm of vulnerability and even danger? In the words of Alan Lewis, “Only as the church that exists for the world, comes close to the world, and enters into it, can the church be the body of Christ, whose divine identity was fulfilled in coming close to us, subject to the world’s weaknesses and hungers and finally surrendered up to its killing fields and burial grounds” (Between Cross and Resurrection, 347).
We might reflect on the extent to which the models of our church life and fellowship measure up to Paul’s image of the body of Christ, in which no body part is redundant, inactive or inferior. When the professional clergy has sole responsibility for teaching and pastoral care, we are a long way from what is described in this passage. As traditional Christendom continues to decline, we may be handed an opportunity to recover Paul’s vision of the body of Christ.
Read Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10–11 and make his prayer your own.
Lord, enable me to work in tandem with the other moving parts of Your Body as I serve You in our local church.