“For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NET).
One of the best ways to think collectively about Christians is to think of a body. Several times in the New Testament this is the picture that the apostle Paul used to describe Christians’ relationships with each other. Although it isn’t specified here, but it is elsewhere, Jesus is the head of the body. The head is the part that gives direction.
We only have one body, but our one body has many differing parts. Paul emphasized that this is the way with Christians, too. In one Spirit we are all baptised to be a part of Jesus’ one body. All become Christians the same way, no matter where you are from or what status you have in your society. We all drink of the one Spirit. But this does not make us all identical with each other.
Just as the various parts of our body have different functions, we as Christians will also have different functions. We can’t have one person becoming jealous of another because they are receiving more attention because of what they are doing. Our body can’t function that way – the ear can’t opt out of the body because it would rather be an eye or the foot because it would rather be a hand (1 Corinthians 12:15-18). Each part is necessary for the body to function properly. God has put each part of our body just as he knew we needed – and the same is true for the body of Christians, as well!
We need to realize that, just as with our own physical body, every Christian is needed. The picture Paul paints is silly: can you imagine a body that was just an eye? or an ear? or, for that matter, a tongue? (1 Corinthians 12:19-24). We have differing abilities and we all need to use these to God’s glory. But every person is needed because we all have our own unique contribution to bring to the group of Christians. By working together the body functions properly and grows stronger.
“Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honour to the lesser member, so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another. If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honoured, all rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26 NET).
God put our body together to be united with each part working together. And it is the same with being a Christian. We are part of a congregation where we can all contribute to build the body up in unity and not be divided. Instead, we are to be concerned about each other, suffering together and rejoicing together. Have you ever noticed that even in our own body, when we smash our thumb the other hand shows up to help comfort it? If we are being honored, it is the entire body and not just one part of it. Every part of the body works together, suffers together and rejoices together.
This is what God wants from us as Christians.
Readings for next week:
18 May – 1 Corinthians 14
19 May – 1 Corinthians 15:1-28
20 May – 1 Corinthians 15:29-58
21 May – 1 Corinthians 16
22 May – 2 Corinthians 1