There’s almost no way to express adequately the gratitude that I feel to God for making me a part of the Body of Christ, both in its universal and local expressions. And when it comes to the “local Body” of which I’m a part, I’m reminded daily of the generosity, commitment, and mutual concern that’s shared among the Body’s members and that allows us to play a meaningful part in God’s kingdom work in this place. Having said that, my work as a pastor also makes me aware of the challenges that confront local “Christ-bodies” these days, and our New Testament lesson (1 Corinthians 12:12-16) brings some of those challenges into sharp relief.
On the one side, there are those who apparently fail to recognize just how important their contribution to the Body is. They rarely step up to serve; they disappear for weeks at a time, missing out on the worship and fellowship that create meaningful bonds with others. “Because I’m not a hand (a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a choir member, etc.), I don’t belong to the Body,” they seem to say. And yet, it takes each and every gift for God’s work among us to thrive.
On the other side, there are some who apparently fail to recognize the importance of those whose participation in the Body is different from their own. They’ve got little patience for folks who see things differently, or who want to do things differently. And yet, as Paul cautioned: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.'” When we fail to see the value in our differences — when we devalue those whose worship styles or political outlooks or theological convictions are different from our own — we miss out on the potential richness of our “em-Bodied” experience.
In the end, we’re in this thing together. “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it,” Paul says. And thankfully, Christ hasn’t given up on His Body. He continues to fill us with His Spirit and offer us His guidance and heal us with His grace. And His goal — as Paul says elsewhere — is plain: “Until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, The Message).
How could you celebrate and strengthen the Body of Christ today? May the Lord help us to see the beauty of what He’s doing among us, and may He lead us to offer ourselves joyfully to His Body’s work.