For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. –1 Corinthians 12:12-31
I love the metaphor of the Church as a “body.” Paul often reminds us that the collective group of Christians in the world are the “body of Christ” now that Jesus himself has ascended into heaven. It’s a potent reminder that the mission of Jesus is now ours as the Holy Spirit empowers us to continue the Kingdom work until Christ comes again. As Theresa of Avila said “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
In today’s reading from 1 Corinthians 12, Paul digs deeper into the analogy of the Church as a body. Just as the body is made up of many vastly different parts, so the Church is made up of people with diverse gifts and roles. The Apostle emphasizes the equality and importance of each member, even going as far as saying that those who “seem to be weaker are indispensable” and that those that are often considered “less honorable we clothe with greater honor.” It can be easy for Christians, though, to ignore Paul’s call for equality and to lift believers with certain gifts (ex. preaching) above the rest. We can see this in the celebrity-like status that some pastors are elevated to in modern Christian culture. Instead of creating a hierarchy in our churches, we should be looking to honor those faithful saints who use their gifts in ways that are rarely noticed or appreciated: the tireless Bible study teacher, the vigilant visitor of the sick and hurting, the hardworking servant who is constantly preparing for others and cleaning up after them, the joyful nursery work, and on and on the list goes. Let’s be on the lookout for those selfless servants of Christ around us this week and celebrate the way God is using them to build up the body of Christ for the sake of the Gospel!