Summary: Fleshing out what it means to be a local church in Christ made up of diverse individuals functioning with a unity of purpose.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
D.) ROLES & EQUIPMENT (Offices & Gifts)
“THE OPTIONS MENU” (1 Cor. 12:12-31)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, June 28, 2009 AM
Beginning in 1844, the French author Alexandre Dumas created an adventurous story that featured a team of characters that have epitomized what it means to be a team up to this very day. The Three Musketeers featured not three, but four men who learned and proved that they could only accomplish their heart’s desire by working together as one unit with different parts. Of course, long before Alexandre Dumas, this principle had already been compellingly presented to the world in God’s Holy Scripture.
A.) ALL FOR ONE & ONE FOR ALL (vv. 12-14)
Think for a moment about your physical body. Even though you are one single individual your body is made up of countless components and elements. Some you could live without. Some you couldn’t. Some could be missing or misfiring and you wouldn’t easily notice. Others, if missing or malfunctioning, would immediately set off all the ’bells and whistles.’ They each represent a huge variety of functions and importance. Yet, your body is only truly complete and able to reach it’s full potential when all of the parts are present and functioning in a manner that is both healthy and in accordance with it’s God-given role and function.
ALL the parts of the body – though immensely diverse – function for the benefit and purpose of the One Whole. At the same time and for the same reason, the One Body must display great concern and care for each and every part lest the whole should malfunction, fail and/or suffer.
In his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul takes this commonly understood metaphor and applies it to them as a church.
First & foremost, he emphasizes how this dynamic is true of Christ Himself – Emmanuel, God With Us and in the flesh.
Then, having gotten their attention and curiosity, Paul connects this to the relationship of all redeemed believers in Jesus. This amazing Truth is that all those we believe and put their faith in Him as the Messiah are His functional Body! He is the head, the nerve and control center, and His redeemed are empowered through His salvation and empowerment of the Spirit to function as the parts that make up His Body.
The link that knits all of these parts together is baptism in the one Spirit.
This is a reference to the reality of which our water baptism symbolizes – cleansing and rebirth through faith in the gift of Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross on our behalf. Through Christ and His grace, those who have genuinely believed have been spiritual re-born as different parts that together in Christ form One Body.
Literally, Scripture says that they have each been immersed into the One Body. In either words, not just part of us , but ALL of us are made to be but a part of His Body!
“whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free”
Taken specifically, they represent the two greatest distinctions in the First Century. Taken generally, these contrasts represent the two major distinctions that separate people in any time and culture – race/religion and social status.
ALL earthly distinctions – physical, ethnic, social, economic are obliterated in Christ. We were each different in . . . , but now we are all simply His.
Illustration (use as object lesson): Consider a powdered lemonade mix. Individually, each crystal represents a unique, sweet-sour combination of elements. However, if you pour (immerse) the right amount into a jug of pure water, add the right amount of sugar, and stir thoroughly you will have a new Whole (lemonade) in which the individual parts seamlessly blend together into a whole that is entirely different from the parts. First, they were born as unique, individual crystals. Then, immersed together in water, they have become inseparable members of a delicious and refreshing drink.
In the same way, Scripture declares, we were once born unique and separate individuals. But, then, upon our placing our faith in Christ, we have each been immersed in His Spirit and been re-made together as one integrated whole.
Remember always, the Body is One and not a group. Yet, don’t ever forget that this One is made up of many different parts.
B.) ALL ARE NECESSARY (vv. 15-24a)
Earlier, I asked us to imagine the human body as it is. Now, imagine what it would be like according to Paul’s further, intentionally absurd, suggestions.
What if, instead of two eyes and two ears, you had four eyes – two in front and one on each side – and no ears? What if another was just one giant mouth? What if your body was an amazing mass of muscles, but had no heart?