Summary: Paul was concerned that some in the Church at Corinth thought they were less important in the Body than others. It is through our unity that the Church as seen as Jesus witness.
United as one body. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
The joy and excitement I feel being in Fiji is great. I had the real pleasure this week of travelling around the country well, the island of Viti Lavu with Major’s Phillipa and Merika, visiting the Corps and spending some time with officers and seeing part of the work of The Salvation Army here in Fiji. I would like to say from what I have seen in the past two weeks there is a dedicated group of officers here and I am really looking forward to ministering alongside them and the soldiers of The Salvation Army here, ministering alongside all of you. We live in a truly spectacular country and I am really pleased to be resident in Fiji. What a wonderful place.
However I am lacking something, my mainstay, my wife Rochelle, my family is still in New Zealand, some good news on the family front though a got a call from Louis my oldest son who mentioned that he and his girlfriend Hannah are engaged. Part of being a married couple is that you know you are part of something greater than yourself I would like to say, I’m so looking forward to Rochelle and Janaki our daughter's arrival. Being part of something dynamic be it team or relations with others is a terrific thing and I’d like to say what a great team there is here at DHQ. In a week or so I will be passed the point of getting names wrong, my apologies in the meantime.
Lyndon Buckingham once said when he was The Territorial Youth Secretary that his team was a pleasure to work with and they supported him in his ministry and that he felt he was surrounded by people who were more gifted and capable than him. I don’t know if he was just being modest but the then Major, now Chief of the Staff left an impression on me that I have thought of this past two weeks as I have met with and shared time with officers and soldiers here in Fiji. We have what it takes here to advance the Kingdom of God, to bring back those who have wandered from the narrow path and to take the message of the gospel to the lost and suffering. Fiji for Jesus! Though you Jesus to Fiji and the World!
Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians spells out to the Church there the need to be united in their cause. The Church at Corinth was a group of people who had mainly come from pagan backgrounds and were a bit stuck in old ways, they were a bit interested in externals things, about glory and position, who had what gift rather than what the whole Church was achieving. So, Paul wrote this letter in part to sort this out. Paul describes the church as a body, he uses this metaphor, this picture of a body, as the hands, feet, eyes, the nose also modest body parts and parts that are honoured. But in all this, as one body united and functioning together…the Church as one body together, step by step advancing the kingdom of God, I would add here taking the gospel, getting involved in its community and showing love to their neighbours as the Lord commanded and in their unity showing love for other members of that body. Because of that love for others they were then able to be seen by their neighbours as one body, members belong to a group who were obviously disciples of Jesus. There’s a reference there to John 13:35 when Jesus said, “By this will all men know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” There’s a question there for us if we don’t show our love for one another will we be seen as Jesus disciples? In our unity, we are seen to be fulfilling Jesus' mission to all people.
So the Church is a unit, made of many parts, Paul makes it clear that we all have baptism through the Holy Spirit, verse 12. It does not matter who we are, by accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour we all have been baptised by the Spirit of God. The same Spirit that hovered over the waters at creation, the same Spirit that was with the old testament Prophets, the same Spirit that came to the disciples at Pentecost, the same powerful Spirit that empowers His people, His Church today. Many people, many parts. As we respond to God, united we are seen to be fulfilling Jesus mission to all people.
Many parts of the body all with the same Spirit, the Spirit of God who is our helper, guide, comforter and friend, all of us, many parts. Paul asks if a part might say, a foot in his question, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body.” Or an ear, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body.” Paul was saying this because some were saying things like, look I help out at the service on Sunday setting out the place of meeting or I provide drinks and welcome people at the meeting, or I take food to the widows in the congregation but I don’t prophecy or have gifts of healing, so I am not really that important to the Church. What Paul wanted to do was to make it clear that everyone in the Church at Corinth was just as important as the next person no matter what their giftings were.