Summary: A look at Service within the church.
The Body: Where do You Fit In?
Last week we looked at the story of Esther and the way that God placed that young woman in the perfect place at the perfect time through a series of seemingly unrelated events in her life. And I talked about some of the things that I believed God expected of me as the pastor of this church for such a time as this. This week I want to switch the focus a little and look at the ministry here as a whole and what it’s going to take for this ministry to be a healthy, effective, and growing ministry. Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth because of some arguments that have arisen within the congregation. There are those who were complaining about their role in the church and there were those who were Lording seemingly important positions over those who carried out less significant roles within the ministry. Paul chooses to use the analogy of the church functioning as a Body, with each part being of equal importance to the overall health and function of the individual body.
1CO 12:12 The 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. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1CO 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1CO 12:21 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!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 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.
1CO 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Paul is brilliant here as he compares the church to the human body. There is nothing created that is quite so fascinating as the human body, nothing that runs as efficiently, with each part and groups of parts relying on the next to maintain the health and wellness of an individual. When one part of the body ceases to function, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, it can have drastic and far reaching effects on the function of the body as a whole.
Paul is telling the people that in God’s kingdom, it’s the health of the body that is important and that each part must do its job to ensure that the body is effective. The human body does not exist to meet the needs of the hand or the foot, or the stomach. Those parts exist to meet the needs of the body and in doing so, each parts needs are met as well. The Church (Body of Christ) does not exist simply to meet our needs, rather, we exist to carry out the work of the Body and in doing so our own needs are met.
Unfortunately in today’s day and age, you have a lot of unhealthy bodies. Bodies with parts that are missing or that exist to further themselves ahead of the body. It reminds me of a Snoopy cartoon I remember reading years ago.
You may remember a few years ago when Snoopy, the lovable beagle in the Peanuts cartoon, had his left leg broken. Snoopy was philosophizing about his plight one day while perched on top of his doghouse and looking at the huge white cast on his leg. "My body blames my foot for not being able to go places. My foot says it was my head’s fault, and my head blamed my eyes.... My eyes say my feet are clumsy, and my right foot says not to blame him for what my left foot did...." Snoopy looks out at his audience and confesses, "I don’t say anything because I don’t want to get involved."