What this is saying is that we have one body but our body has many parts to it.
In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul gives a fantastic illustration for the church. It functions like a human body. Everyone in the church is part of the body and has a purpose within the body. If a part of the body is unhealthy or is not functioning properly, that effects the rest of the body.
The church exists to spread the gospel, to make disciples, and to support each other as the body of Christ on earth.
The church is called to work together for the mission of God.
I love the practicality of Paul’s illustration.
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
-1 Corinthians 12:14-16
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.
Kind of smelly.
Often times out of sight. The foot isn’t nearly as glamorous as a hand.
A hand brings pizza closer to your mouth.
And so Mr. Foot might be tempted to feel like he’s not contributing much.
But he helps you keep balance and to walk. The foot matters.
“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.”
Might be tempting for the ear to also be insecure.
It’s not an eye.
People get complimented for their eyes. “Oh you have such pretty eyes.”
If someone has ears that are worth mentioning, it’s not for a good reason….
But ears are important. They’re part of the body. They funnel sound in. They hold on our glasses.
Everyone in the church has a place, has a role. You have an area where you fit. You’re part of the body. You have a way to serve that is valuable for the church.
Verse 17 gets at the idea that it’s necessary for there to be differences of parts within 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?
-1 Corinthians 12:17
Just a big eye rolling around.
Not only are there different parts, but there need to be different parts.
We don’t all need the same gifts. We don’t need everyone to be a preacher.
What a nightmare that would be!
God equips us with gifts for his own glory. And the church flourishes when people are living on a mission and committed to living lives to serve God.
Verse 20 is somewhat of a summary verse to this entire passage: “As it is, there are any parts, yet one body.”
Verse 21 is affirmation from the passage how every part of the body needs every other part of the 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.”
-1 Corinthians 12:21
Every part matters.
In the world of theater, they have a saying “there are no small parts, just small actors” and the point is that everyone ni a production is still important to the story.
Or I think about when I would play football with my friends as a kid. My friends and I always wanted to be the quarterback or running back or receiver. We never had dreams of being the kicker.
But a kicker is still part of the team.
Kickers are important.
A kicker can win you a Super Bowl
There’s no reason to be jealous of gifts that you don’t have. Because again, everything is part of serving God’s purposes. And those are eternal purposes. Because of his goodness and grace, God allows his people to be part of his mission in the world.
Are you serving your church for the Mission of God today?
Originally published June 21, 2018
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Josh Benner has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has served churches in Minnesota and Illinois. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in St. Louis.