Last week we took a broad look at the gifts of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12.1???11. ??Even though we didn't have the time to define specifics concerning each gift, we were able to see that spiritual gifts come from God, that they are granted by him to the body of Christ for our salvation and for the spread of the gospel. ??This week, we turn to an understanding of the Church, also known as the Body of Christ, and we'll look at our role in it.??
Listen to what Paul says in this morning's text???
1 Corinthians 12.12-31
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body???Jews or Greeks, slaves or free???and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, ???Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,??? that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, ???Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,??? that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, ???I have no need of you,??? nor again the head to the feet, ???I have no need of you.??? 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
This scripture is so important. ??It encourages us with the reality that each of us has a part to play in the will and mission of God. ??But it also challenges us with the task of being united, just as a human body works together in unison to accomplish both the simplest and the most complicated tasks.
At it's basic level, the image of the body that Paul gives us is so wonderful because it is common and true. ??The human body is affected by every part, every member and extremity (or even the lack thereof). ??Paul in v.26 says, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it." ??If your head hurts, the rest of your body struggles to accomplish the task at hand. ??Of course we try anyway and we push through it, but it's painful and makes the job harder. ??
Years ago, a church I was working for had a Brunswick Stew sale. ??We sold hundreds of quarts of stew in one day and as the boxes arrived at the church from the cannery, it was my job to get them unloaded so they could be sorted for sale ??? and they sold FAST! ??On the way in the door with a much-too-heavy load, I caught my hand on the metal push-lock and cut my hand deep. ??It was some of the worst pain I had ever felt and it bled a lot. ??I had to take time away to bandage it and then got right back on the line, only to find out that I couldn't carry the same load, I was slower in my work, and my attitude was awful. ??The pain I had in one place was affecting the rest of my body and I was far less than my best.
All of this to say: it is so important that the body does it's best to be careful and work together. ??When the members of the body are at odds, things fall apart. ??Strife and division set in and it begins to affect our work. ??We can't do as much, we slow down, and our attitude changes. ??But when we work together, when we see that each of us plays an important role, we are able to do great things as we contribute to God's will.
Being a part of this body is simple when you get right down to it. ??When you have believing faith and are (or have been) baptized, you are grafted into this body, the Church, receiving a place and role. ??That role is defined by your willingness to share your self with God, by offering your gifts and talents to the needs of the Church at it tries to meet the needs of the community. ??Those around us have many different needs. ??Some of those needs are fellowship, some are food and clothing, some are hope and faith, others are financial and work-related. ??The most important thing for you, the body of Christ, is your availability to the mission of the Church. ??Just as Christ made himself available by offering his life and ministry to the world, so we are to offer our life and ministry to world around us.
Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and each of us plays a part in his body, accomplishing the will that is set forth by the head, Jesus. ??It is Jesus' mind, the head of the Church, that Paul refers to when he says in his other letters to be of the same mind. ??We are to have as our heads the mind and will of God, which is revealed in Christ Jesus. ??Through Jesus' mind, we are able to see the true needs that are around us. ??Some of those needs are in plain sight, while others are things that will take relationship and investment. ??My hope for you this morning is that you will begin with an excited faith to take up your place in the Body of Christ, that you will play your part and offer yourself to the mission at hand. ??And then, when you have discovered your role through making yourself available, we can begin to help those around us and even discover those deeper things that can be accomplished in lives of those whose needs are great.
Speak with me about your involvement, let me and other leaders in our church know that you would like to be available. ??Through the unity of the Body, we can accomplish great things. ??I say we get to it and be the Body of Christ outside these walls. ??Think about it; pray about; talk about it; and let's see how we can make a difference in both life and faith. ??Amen.