WAS PAUL A JOKER?
Lord, keep me fixed on being a team player.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 12:12–20
Unity and Diversity in the Body
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
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.
If God gives to us a gift that is supposed to benefit others, how do you think he feels about our disregard for it?
The central thrust of Paul’s discussion of the gifts of the Spirit is their distribution to every member of the local church: no one is excluded. Also, in a striking reversal of societal norms, those labeled by the Corinthian society as “weaker” and “less honorable” (including the many slaves who came to Christ) are declared indispensable and worthy of special honor (22–25). The Gospel turns the values of the dominant society upside down and, instead of spiritual gifts being prostituted for personal gain or prestige, they exist “for the common good” (7). The competitive individualism which saturates Corinthian society is replaced by the vision of a new spiritual community in which all members “have equal concern for each other” and share together in both suffering and honor (25,26).
Paul habitually employs several literary devices to drive his message home. We can find examples of parody, irony, and sarcasm in these chapters, but does he also deploy humor? Is the image of a human ear declaring its independence from the rest of the body designed to make us smile? Does this indicate that when the members of the local church abandon their calling as the body of Christ and allow the dominant culture to reshape their relationships, the outcome is simply laughable? Is a congregation of people like a monstrous ear attempting to exist in isolation from the greater body to which it belongs? Perhaps we should laugh out loud at such a perversion of Paul’s great hope for the new spiritual community in Christ, although it may always be possible that the joke is on us!
What practical steps should we take to avoid local churches becoming monocultural communities?
Lord, show me what my contribution to the local church is and how I can contribute to its forward motion.