Summary: Paul could very well have used this motto in 1 Corinthians 12 in his description of the church as the body of Christ. He uses the physical human body as a metaphor for the church, an analogy to explain how the church is designed to function in the purpose
If you Pull a dollar bill out of your wallet, or a coin from your pocket or change purse, and if you look carefully you will find the Latin words E Pluribus Unum. It is the motto found on the Great Seal of the United States. It was originally chosen in 1776 by a committee of the Continental Congress consisting of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, but not adopted officially by Congress until six years later (in 1782). The phrase E Pluribus Unum, of course, means “out of many, one” and refers to the idea that the United States is one nation consisting of several different states. Out of many, one nation. From the many – from the original 13 independent colonies – one united nation. Though our country has grown from the original 13 states to the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and other territories today, the vision remains the same: From the many states, and from different races, backgrounds and nations of origin, one united nation.
Paul could very well have used this motto in 1 Corinthians 12 in his description of the church as the body of Christ. He uses the physical human body as a metaphor for the church, an analogy to explain how the church is designed to function in the purpose of God.
Several times in this passage Paul makes the point that though it is made up of many constituent parts and consists of many members, they are all part of one body. Notice what he says beginning in verse 12: This body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized in one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many (vv. 12-14).
A little later, in verse 20, he says: As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
And again, in verse 27, to emphasize his point: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. In the body of Christ, as in the human body, there are many parts, but only one body. There are many parts in the body. The body has not one but many members. But there is just one body. And in the body of Christ, as in the human body, every member matters. Every part of the body has a particular role to play. Each member of the body has a job to do. A function to perform. A purpose to fulfill.
There are three main points about life in the body of Christ that I want you to see from this passage.
1. WE NEED EACH OTHER.
Notice what Paul says in verse 21: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!” Nor, as Paul says in verse 15, would the foot cease to be part of the body if it said: “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body.”
The bottom line is this: In the body of Christ, we need each other, not only for the health of the body as a whole, but to enable each individual member to operate at full potential. It is true in the human body. And it is true in the church, the body of Christ. We need each other. And we belong to each other.
We understand that no one can rightly say: “I’m useless. I have nothing to offer.” And no part of the body can say, with superiority or an attitude of self sufficiency, to another part of the body: “I don’t need you.” The stronger or more spiritually mature members do not – and must not – say to those who are weaker or less mature: “We don’t need you. We don’t want you. Good-bye.”
Every member of the body matters. Every part of the body has an important
contribution to make, even those parts that seem to be weaker or less honored.
In order to be the church God wants us to be and to function the way God wants us to function, we need each other. I need you, and you need each other.
Maybe you’ve heard the old story about a visit Dwight L. Moody made to a prominent Chicago businessman. The man said to Moody: “I believe I can be just as good a Christian without the church as I can be with it.” Moody said nothing in response. Instead, he went over to the fireplace where a fire was blazing to give heat against the winter cold. He removed a single burning coal and placed it on the fireside. The two men sat in silence as the hot coal died out.“I see,” said the other man. “I’ll be in church on Sunday.”