Summary: Deals with the subject of every member of the Body of Christ’s need for every other member.
I Need You
I. Each Member Is Indispensable
A. Not all the same
B. But each is essential
II. Each Member Is Interdependent
A. Not all the same
B. But each relies on every other
III. Each Member Is Interconnected
A. Not all the same
B. But each part affects every other part
One of my favorite things to do as a child was to read the Sunday comics (or the funnies as we called them). Of all the comics I read, the one that I never missed was the Peanuts strip. In one of those cartoons, Lucy demands that Linus change the channel on the TV and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t.
“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.
“These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re noth-ing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”
“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus.
Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?” (Bruce Shelley, What Is the Church, p. 38).
While I don’t condone Lucy’s methods, however effective they might prove to be, she does give us a powerful illustration of how the Church, the Body of Christ, is designed to work together. Remember what she said, “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” It is when we come together that we become an effective instrument for tearing down the strongholds of Satan and for communicating the love of the Savior.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Church to the human body. Through this analogy, he communicates the important truth of our need to accept our differences as individual members of the Body of Christ and to recognize these differences as vital to the proper functioning of the whole. Our differences are not to be accentuated, resulting in division. Rather, they are for the purpose of meeting the various needs that exist within the Church—both locally and globally. There are many parts because there are many needs. And without the various parts, some needs would be neglected.
I’m going to help you understand Paul’s teaching in this section by summarizing all that he says in just three words—so if you fail to hear anything else that is said, don’t miss these three words. The point that Paul is trying to make can be summed up in this motto: I need you! Let me repeat it so there’s no mistaking it: I need you!
I’m not going to spend a lot of time tearing this passage into little pieces because I want to focus our attention this morning on applying this word to our lives. I’m simply going to call your attention to three principles of body life within the Church that Paul uses to drive home his point of our need for one another. Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
Each Member Is Indispensable
The first principle that Paul wants us to understand about our need for one another is that each member is indispensable. While each member of the Body of Christ is not the same, each of us is essential to the whole.
Paul uses the analogy of the human body which is made up of many different parts to show us how the variety of parts-eyes, hands, ears, nose-is essential to the whole-ness of the body. Each part must be present in order for the body to be complete. If the human body was made up of only one part, then it would cease to be a body—by definition, a body is made up of many parts.
But for the sake of argument, if it were possible for a body to be made up on only one part, then it would it would be an extremely limited body—it would miss out on all the functionality and potential of all the other parts. We are given eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, and noses to smell. The various parts of our human bodies contribute to the whole in unique and significant ways that no other part can do.
So it is with the Body of Christ. God has made us all different and unique. He gifts us each in particular ways like no one else. We are each special and necessary. And we are to carry out the function for which we were created and gifted by God, whether it is for seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or whatever. “Each part…must be willing to perform its own function and not seek to function in a role for which it was not made” (EBC, vol. 10, p. 265).