Last week I had three separate appointments at the hospital. Each part of me needing a different consultant with a different speciality – and they’re just the ones I’ve seen this week! A reminder if any was needed of how our body is made up of different parts. Except, none of those consultants was working in isolation, they each have to consider the whole of me and how all these symptoms work together. And the fact that my notes have gone missing was not really helping any of them!
One Body with Many Parts
12 The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. 13 Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God’s Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.
14 Our bodies don’t have just one part. They have many parts. 15 Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the foot still belong to the body? 16 Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body? 17 If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. 18 But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.
19 A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. 20 It takes many parts to make a single body. 21 That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet. 22 In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. 23 We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts, 24 but we don’t have to be modest about other parts.
God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. 25 He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. 26 If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.
27 Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28 First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29 Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30 Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean. 31 I want you to desire the best gifts.So I will show you a much better way.
This passage follows on from the one last week, reminding us that we all have different gifts, graces and talents – and to use what we have rather than spend time regretting what we can’t do. The idea is reinforced that we all need one another. We need more than a foot to be a body, more than just a heart, more than just our bones. Together it makes the whole wonderful machine. And when one part hurts, it effects the functioning of the rest.
This is the image we are given of God’s community on earth. No part is insignificant, or not needed. Each and every person, and the gifts they bring, goes towards making the body as a whole function. We have no right to make anyone feel they are useless, or can be managed without. Conversely it is our responsibility to ensure that when one part is hurting, we all do what we can to care for them and bring wholeness.
It was said in a village we once lived, “Kick one and they all limp”, they were such a close-knit community. The church too should be like that. We should feel each others pain; we should function and work together.
I need you and the insights you bring from your experience. They make me think and learn. They widen the experience I have had and can have by myself. Together we can bounce off each other and rub each others sharp corners. We are put in community for a reason.
In the words of Ishmael:
We are one, we are family together,
‘Cause we’ve one Father caring for us all,
We are one, we are related to each other,
Lord help me to love my family much more.
We should all rejoice in one another and the parts, different and individual, we can all play together, to make up the wonderful variance of God’s people.
to care for my Christian family,
for and with one another