1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Theme: Our role in the body of Christ.
This week’s lessons challenge us to know our spiritual gifts and to use them in the Church.
We’re studying Paul’s analogy between a human body and the Church. The illustration of the human body makes some obvious points. The first one is that all of these parts have different functions. The eye sees, but it does not walk. The foot walks, but it does not handle. The hand handles, but it does not think. All parts of the body have different functions, and so do we. That is not a weakness or a failing. It is the way God made it. It is the way God wants it and he wants us to recognize that.
Secondly, all parts of the body are necessary. Paul is saying, “What kind of body would it be if it did not have feet?” Sometimes that happens. People become paralyzed, lose limbs, or become unable to use their sense of sight or of hearing due to an accident or a disease. As a result, it becomes more difficult or impossible for the person to perform certain activities. Paul is saying every part is necessary and the body is weakened or less effective when one part is missing. So do not say, “Well, I only have this gift. Maybe it isn’t even a gift. Maybe it doesn’t really matter.” Of course it does matter. Why? It matters because God gave it to you, and he put you within the Church of Jesus Christ by new birth so that you could exercise that gift within the Church for the health of the body, which is the body of Christ.
Paul’s third point is that often the least attractive part is most necessary. What is the most attractive part? Generally, I think we would say the face, but you can have a terribly disfigured face and still function very well. You can do anything that anybody else can do, except perhaps be in the movies. But take something away that is very unattractive and see what happens. During one of our first visits to France my wife and I decided to go out to eat dinner. We found a little restaurant somewhere in Paris. We were seated and presented with menus that offered a variety of foods from which to choose. Now, I had studied French, so I surveyed the menu and found something that went by a name that I recognized as lamb. I said to my wife, Linda, “Let’s have lamb,” and she agreed. When the waiter came to take our order I told him what we wanted. He paused and repeated the selection back to me, asking if I was sure about my choice. I affirmed that that was what we wanted to eat, and he went away with an incredulous expression on his face.
A short time later he returned with our plates. Each contained two mounds – they were gray, about half the size of a tennis ball, and they were covered with what looked like slightly dirty milk. My wife and I, in the pit of our stomachs, knew what they were, but we said nothing. We looked, took a deep breath and we started to eat them. Each bite was worse than the last. That was such an unpleasant experience that for a long time we could not even say the name of what those things were. In a private conversation years later, we said to each other, “We will never order brains again.” Speaking personally, in my opinion, the least attractive part of the body is the brain, but try taking the brain out and see what is left. This is Paul’s point. No matter how insignificant you think your gift may be, no matter how unattractive you think you are, or how insignificant you may feel, you are necessary to the body of Christ. If we lose you, if your gift does not function, the Church of Jesus Christ experiences a loss.
For what purpose has God given us our gifts?
Why is a diversity of gifts within the Church necessary?
Spend time meditating on Psalm 139.
No matter how insignificant you may feel, you are necessary to the body of Christ.