1CORINTHIANS 12:12-31a (NIV – UK)
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 baptised 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 And 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.
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 honourable we treat with special honour. 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 honour 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 honoured, 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.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
If you follow Jesus, you are part of his body. What part are you? Are you an important part? Are you an insignificant part? Paul tells us that there are no insignificant parts, but that every part of the body plays its part (v. 21-24). When we look around in our church, we probably see lots of different people, with lots of different gifts and skills. How on earth could we ever have unity in such circumstances? But, using the example of the body, Paul tells us that unity isn’t achieved through everyone being the same, but through all the different parts complimenting one another.
This has lots of knock on effects for the Christian life, not least the knowledge that you are a valued and vital part of the body of Christ – valued by God: ‘God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be’ (v. 18). Being part of the Body of Christ, we shouldn’t act as if we are completely isolated and alone, but instead honour the fact that we are part of something much greater – we should celebrate together, as well as suffer together (v. 26). This is where we find our identity – in Christ. This is who we are, and discerning our identity in the Body of Christ will help us to thrive in the Cristian life.
Question: Do you feel as if you have identified your place in the Body of Christ?