Summary: Focuses not on details of each spiritual gift, but how we don’t use our gifts, we simply live life as we always did.
Air Conditioner. The first house we owned was quite old and a lot of things didn’t work quite right.Our air conditioner broke every year.
It would cool down the house then, become a heater heat it up, then cool it down. Not how an air conditioner should work. First year called the company who had placed the sticker on the unit. They came out. Fixed it. Worked well.It was under warranty – so we only had to pay or labor.
Next year, same thing happened. The same company. Fixed it. Worked well. Under warranty – again – only had to pay labor.
Third year – same thing. Called a different company. The guy opens the unit and says, "No wonder it keeps breaking…" and there inside the unit lay a pile of extra parts. Apparently at one point someone
couldn’t figure out how to put the unit together right and just left the parts and subsequent air conditioning guys left the parts. The new guy fixed the air conditioner using all the parts and it never broke again.
Our passage today is a favorite passage of many people. It gives us a concrete view of how the church works and with even a quick reading you clearly can pick up the main point. We are the Body of Christ and we need all parts to function well, but that is only the first level that Paul is speaking about.
Paul is speaking at a deeper level. This is not just about people and their differences in general, but about people and their spiritual gifts which are different. But ever deeper is the concept, that we are to operate in our weakness to be strong and effective - That is to operate by the Holy Spirit.
We are the body of Christ and we act interdependently. The example Paul uses was a very common example in antiquity. We see Aesop using it in a story. All the body parts boycott the stomach, because they think it is lazy. Of course to find out they cannot live without it. We also see the image used in other more esoteric philosophers of the day.
So Paul by using the image of the body and its parts working together taps into something very familiar in their culture that they all can complete, even before Paul is through with the example. Like shave and a haircut (tap it out)
Paul is addressing the church, not just the church at Corinth but including all congregations – the whole church as well. In Greek the church is called the ekklesia – gathering place, or gathering of people.
The intent of the ekklesia is that through it the name of Christ is made known and made manifest his work here on earth. Remember that when the church first started they literally had no meeting place. Some met in someone’s house. But most churches met in the street, true street preaching. They were not tied to a building at all. When asked what church do you go to, no one spoke of the building or the location – it didn’t exist. They spoke of the people involved: My church…Chuck, Mary, Fred, John…..
So Paul’s point is very clear to the Corinthians.
Paul’s main point clearly is inverse 25-26: 1Cor. 12:25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
If you are a fan of the Peanuts cartoon…you may remember years ago when Snoopy broke his leg. Charles Shultz got hundreds of letters from well wishers, wishing Snoopy a speedy recovery. Snoopy himself philosophized about it on top of his dog house. Looking at the huge cast on his leg. My body blames my foot for not being able to go places. My foot says it was my heads fault and my head blamed my eyes. My eyes say my feet are clumsy and my right foot say don’t blame him for what my left foot did. I don’t say anything, because I don’t want to get involved.
Now we need to be careful here, this part of Scripture isn’t just – do your part – pitched in – get involved, in fact he doesn’t say that does he? He also doesn’t say – just get along everyone, though we tend to take that away, don’t we?
Yes he is saying that we need each other in the church.
Yes he is saying that each one of us is very valuable.
Yes he is saying that we should have equal concern for each other.
But if that is what you walk away from after looking at this Scripture, then you have missed the point, the greater significance for our lives.