Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV)
This past Sunday, I preached on this passage in 1 Corinthians. The audio will be posted here, but in case you missed it, here’s an overview.
The first point I made was that each of us is important to the Church—the body of believers. No one is too young, too old, too poor, too sick, too broken—too anything—to be used by God.
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. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 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. 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. 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? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:13-20 NIV)
The next verses really caught my eye, though.
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!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (1 Corinthians 12:21-25 NIV, emphasis added)
The second point is that none of us is more important to the body than any other member. The world wants us to see differences as being in opposition to each other, but in the Church, our differences are ordained by God to serve his Church. Unless we’re paying attention, it’s easy to slip into a way of thinking that places greater importance on some types of people, but God says we’re all equal before him.
Think through the following categories of differences between people. If you identify with a group that you feel is devalued, ask God to give you encouragement in knowing that he values you. If you identify with a group that the world might consider more important or more valuable, ask God to show you the importance of the people who differ from you in that aspect.
Young and Old
New believer and Mature Christian
Rich and Poor
Abled and Disabled
White people and People of color
Conservative and Liberal
Christians have a job to do, which is to love God by loving people. We in the church have got to be the ones who bridge the differences between people. We all have Jesus, and we need to use that basis of shared understanding to figure out how to talk respectfully with one another. One great way to start is to intentionally focus on the value provided by people who are different from us and how we all need one another.
Abigail can be reached by email here.