Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Big Idea: The Church is like a body, made up of different members with different functions, yet unified as one in Christ.
Continuing this theme of unity of the Church, Paul goes from using spiritual gifts as his example to using the physical body as a picture of many parts, yet unified as one.
1. EVERY MEMBER IS PART OF THE BODY (1 Cor 12:15-20)
A physical body has different features, different functions and different strengths. But all of these different parts function for one underlying purpose – to give life to the body. As Paul points out, the ear is different from the eye, the hand is different from the foot, and all of them are needed in their specific functions.
So, when all parts of the body are working as they should, no one will be trying to be something they are not, and it won’t be a competition, knowing that every member of the body is important. That means your gifts and your presence here as part of this church is God-arranged. He chose you in salvation. He chose you to be part of this church. He chose you to be in relationship with others in your church to serve His purposes and the needs of others.
2. EVERY MEMBER IS NEEDED FOR THE BODY TO FUNCTION (1 Cor 12:21-26)
Unity in the Church, the Body of Christ, does not happen if I neglect my part in it, nor if I think too highly of it. If I ignore my spiritual gifts I will miss what God called me to do. If I obsess over my gifts I will miss what God has called others to do. Instead, humbly submit yourself to God to be used for His glory and the good of one another. One part of the body does what another cannot. I can only write with my right hand, not with my left. But that doesn’t mean my left hand is unimportant.
Unity does not mean uniformity. Just as we benefit from differences in our physical bodies, we benefit from the differences in the church. I need people who are different than me, to sharpen me where I’m weak, and give me an opportunity to sharpen them. Every member is needed. Every person has a purpose, with our differences playing an important role. And there’s a purpose behind it all…”that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (v. 25).
3. EVERY MEMBER FUNCTIONS AS GOD APPOINTS (1 Cor 12:27-31)
in a church like Corinth, people were competing with one another in their gifts, Paul is encouraging them (and us) to stop trying to be a cookie-cutter image of each other. If everyone was the same, that would defeat the purpose of the Body – with different members – functioning together. Not everyone will speak in tongues. Not everyone will be a teacher or prophet or have the gift of healing. Joyfully function in the gift that God has given you.
God, in His sovereign pleasure and good humor, makes us all so incredibly different, with different gifts, different tastes, different abilities, different personalities, and He puts us all together. We are not consumers buying a product. We are a family, one in Christ, who are loved by God and who love one another. That means in all our gifts, in all our fellowship and in all of our efforts, may we remember that it’s not about us. It’s about making much of Jesus and about serving His Church – the Body of Christ that you and I have been welcomed into.
With all our differences, remember at the core, we are all the same. We all struggle with sin, we all need the grace of our Savior. And as one Body, we need each other.