Reading: 1.Corinthians 12: 12-31 Click on the reading to read it
Our reading in Corinthians today speaks a strong message but with a simple analogy that not only the people of the time would have understood but it’s just as relevant today. It really does challenge us to question how we see ourselves within the body of Christ and how that should play out in our lives together. It shows how we can either work well together or let pride, envy, power or standing get in the way and as a result limit our effectiveness and limit what God is calling us to do and to be.
So I think the question we need to ask is…
Do we see ourselves as the body of Christ, with Jesus at the head?
Because without the head, the body starts to fall apart. I’m going to ask you to take a look around for a minute and ask yourselves this – if a stranger came in today, would they see the body of Christ, would they see us in unity, or would they see a church full of individuals and not one unit? Or maybe more to the point, how do you feel about the people around you, all the other people in your church? Do you feel you’re all united? Do we work well together to further God’s kingdom? Because that is what Paul is saying God wants us to be and do.
So often, the people God calls us into fellowship with in the family of the church are not the people who we would necessarily associate with outside of church, and yet God still calls us to be one body with many parts and this is because we all bring our own unique gifts and abilities that compliment each other in order for God’s kingdom to grow. God gives us our gifts for the common good.
Isn’t it amazing that God knows exactly what he is doing by putting us all here together? He sees each of us as worthy to be a part of his body, with nobody being worthier or more deserving than anyone else. He sees us all as having equal significance, therefore we should see each other in the same light, as equals, in who we are in God’s family.
I want you to know that every person here is vital to the to the well-being and work of the church. It doesn’t matter what gift or ability you have, whether you think you’re more important or not as important as other people or perhaps you feel you’re insignificant and have nothing to offer, or you may feel that others see you as insignificant. I want you to know you are just as valuable, and worthy as anyone else. Someone else’s gift is not better, it’s just different. None of us should ever feel undervalued (or over valued for that matter), we have to start seeing each other as equal.
Paul explains this by looking at our physical bodies. He says:
the eye can’t say to the hand I don’t need you, nor can the head say to the foot, I don’t need you… the body can’t do without the parts that seem weaker.
So, it doesn’t matter what gifts we have, whether it’s preaching, leading, listening, cleaning, making the tea… every one of us as I say is equal. So God calls us to see each other as he does. He calls us to encourage one another and build each other up, not tear each other down. Sadly, though, there are times when we think we are better than others. We may think that being up front is the best job, or speaking in tongues makes us more important spiritually, or maybe it’s music, I Iead worship and they couldn’t do it without me.
Paul is saying this is wrong he’s saying that no one gift is better than the other, no one body part is more important, they all have to work together in unity, despite being different. You see The eye is no more important than a hand, the foot no more important than an elbow. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were all eye’s we wouldn’t be able to pick things up or walk or talk. and if we were all feet we wouldn’t be able to see. The body needs all the different parts to work in the way God intended it to. He calls us, even through our differences, to live and work together in unity.
This is backed up in Romans, which says this:
for just as each of us has one body with many members, those members do not have the same function. So in Christ we though many form one body and each member belongs to all of us. Romans 12:4-5
Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet, he set the example and we must follow it. Jesus calls us to get up and go out into our community as one body to help people, he wants us to minister to the poor and the needy, to reach out and carry on the work he started. We are the body by which Christ can function and reach people now. If we are not working together in the way he intended, his kingdom will not extend as quickly as it should or could.
In verse 26 Paul also talks about when things go wrong and how when one-person hurts, we should all hurt together, why is this? Is it Because we should all love each other enough to feel compassion, we should notice when one person is hurting so we can comfort them and encourage them he goes on to say that when someone does something good and is praised, we should all rejoice together for that person and not feel jealous or angry or want praise for ourselves for something we might have done. We need to share in the highs and lows together
So, the challenge today is how do we achieve this, how do we come together as one body? The reading starts by saying this:
‘in the same way we have all been baptised into the one body by the same spirit’. 1.Corinthians 12:12
So, if we are all baptised into one Spirit, that brings about the union where all the parts fit together and work as intended, just like Paul says if we were all eyes, we would be limited but because we are all different, we can achieve so much more. That has to be celebrated our differences bring a special unity
So, we really need to embrace our differences, and encourage different gifts so that we can share in all that Jesus wants and has planned for our lives. The only way we can do this is by really getting to know each other even more than we do now. I have to say its been great over the past couple of years seeing us grow together more and more so I want to encourage you all to spend time with those that maybe you don’t normally spend time with to get to know them better and ask God to help you see them in the way he does as result we will start to engage even more in a way that brings us together in the unity that Paul is talking about