Chapter 12:14-30 (ESV) - For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should 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. And if the ear should 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. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The 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.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
Question to consider: Why does Paul make the analogy that we are all parts of Christ’s body?
Paul took the symbolic idea of church members being the body of Christ and compared their various gifts from the Holy Spirit to different body parts. In this analogy, Paul made the case for our congregations to be diverse despite our partiality toward those who share our gifts and passions. Someone who has a passion for prayer should not think of themselves as more faithful than one who enjoys planting flowers by the church entrance. Managing the audio levels in the sanctuary is every bit as noble as teaching the Bible class. Why do I say this? Because God arranged it this way. The measure of our faith is Christ in whom we serve. It is not in our ability to “do” but in what Christ has done for us.
Imagine how much a church would thrive if every person devoted themselves to using their gifts in faithful service to one another! I can’t speak for churches in other countries, but it pains me that people in American churches seem to view themselves as customers who need to be placated with entertaining worship services and enriching programs. They’ll leave a church that is perfectly orthodox in order to attend one with a better youth program or more appealing worship music.
Instead we should take an outward view of how we can serve the church rather than how the church can serve us. Paul wrote that God has composed the body so that it may not be divided but have the same care for one another. We mourn with each other and rejoice with each other as a single body of believers belonging to Christ.
The questions Paul asked at the end of this passage all have an implied negative answer. The intent was not to quibble about each specific gift or whether this is a current or exhaustive list. Paul used these questions to make the point that we’ve been given a variety of gifts to make up the body of Christ.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving us a church composed of a diverse set of gifts and passions. Help us to be grateful for the church in which You have called us to serve and connect with it in such a way that we can both rejoice and suffer as one. Please give us a passion to love and serve one another, for in doing so we are loving and serving Christ. Amen.