One Body; Many Members

One Body; Many Members

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Who or what unites the body?

  • Ultimately, God.
  • However, it seems that we have some responsibility to cast aside our own goals and objectives in favor of the Head’s and the body’s.

Which is more important, the eye or the hand?

  • The answer is quite relative because it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Even then, these two members often need to work together in order to get either’s job done.

What is wrong with the previous question?

  • It involves comparing ourselves among ourselves.
  • It puts us in the place of judges over the gifts God gives.
  • It overlooks mutual need and dependence.

When I look down on a brother or question the body’s need of him, how is it to my own peril and detriment?

  • “to profit whithal” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
  • “If the whole body were ____, where were ___?” (1 Corinthians 12:17)

What are some perils with trying to determine what individuals’ gifts are?

  • We might miss the “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
  • We might begin to glory in our gifts.
  • We might succumb to comparing people.
  • We might refuse to serve in certain areas because “That isn’t my gift.”
  • We might become distracted from the gift Giver.

What causes a church to grow spiritually? Let’s notice some factors I give in Coming to Unity of the Faith.

Gifts (Ephesians 4:11-14). In His desire and work to see His church grow, God has given her gifts. These gifts take the form of members, every member! I believe the Scriptures teach clearly that God has purposefully placed each member in each congregation to enable it to grow toward fulness and completeness in Christ. Furthermore, God gives gifts to each of these members. And the proper use of these gifts will bring spiritual growth to the church.

Truth (Ephesians 4:15). Truth alone will likely do little to cause spiritual growth. Truth must be expressed before it can effectively do its work. Interestingly, though, for truth to be effective it must be communicated in love. So where does truth fit in your life and in the life of your congregation? May each of us stand on, walk in, and live by truth.

Head (Ephesians 4:15,16). Here you have an amazing truth: the Head of the church enables all the members to work together. And when we all work together, we grow — and grow up — together in Him! Without the Head as the source of and reason for unity in the church, we would never grow spiritually. Is Christ truly the Head of your church? Remember, for Him to be so, He must be the Head of every individual member . . . including you. (By the way, just what does it mean for Christ to be the Head of a congregation or of an individual?!)

Members (Ephesians 4:16). As we already noted earlier, God has gifted every member in such a way as to bring to the body what it needs for growth and development. For such spiritual growth to take place, each member must faithfully supply its part and effectually do its assigned task. Nobody is along for the ride! These verses behoove us to be faithful stewards of the gift and position God has given us in — and for — the church.

I believe that each of these four elements is so important to spiritual growth and maturity that we cannot do without any. Ultimately, of course, three of these depend totally on the other one — without Him we can do nothing.

I cannot hope to develop and mature spiritually on my own. God, in His mercy, has placed me in His body (the Church) so that I might benefit from the contributions of every other member of that body. I have available all the resources to become what God wishes me to be!

When I look down on a brother or question the body’s need of him, I do so at my own peril and to my own detriment.

Let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3)

The unity of the Church thrives on diversity. Every member makes his unique contribution to the well-being and proper functioning of the body. Each member profits from the different viewpoints of other members. Without this diversity in function and viewpoint, wise counsel would be impossible to come by. Diversity under the Head’s total control enables the Body to function in complete balance. By the way, do you suppose a body could even be a body were it not diversified? No, both the Bible (1 Corinthians 12:14,17-19) and logic make it clear that if all were one member there would be no body — only an organ by itself.

But diversity produces tension! Suppose I eat an onion sandwich then play a harmonica. Then you come along and pick up what your eyes call a harmonica. One sniff gives your brain an opposing point of view! Now then, will your eyes and nose be at odds? Of course not! They are merely filling their function in your body. Thus in the Church. Tension in viewpoints must exist if the Body of Christ is to function in a balanced, maturing fashion. But interpersonal tension is divisive and deadly. Only when we appreciate ourselves as members of and contributors to the same body can we overcome the interpersonal tensions. So don’t get upset at someone if they have a viewpoint different from yours. Appreciate the balance and rightness it can bring to your own ideas.

Excerpted from Called to the Common Good

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