Picture this scenario:
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
1 Corinthians 12:14-17 NASB
The completeness of the body applies to each of us. We may not know our role exactly, but we definitely have one. Whether they realize it or not, others in the church need you, as well. When we disengage from other Christians – whether because of attitude, anger, or apathy – aren’t we implying that we don’t consider ourselves a significant enough part of the body to contribute?
Sure, someone could say that they don’t need you in the body…but they would be wrong. Just as you should seek out the support of and interaction with others, they need you as well.
It works both ways, though:
But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
1 Corinthians 12:20-21 NASB
Despite the number of Christians who know this passage (or have heard multiple sermons on it), it can still be a challenge to consider every other Christian as an important part of the body. Let’s face it, some members of the church are a little obnoxious, or a little weird, or the kind of people that we might be tempted to think are unimportant to the overall body. But, this verse makes it pretty clear that every member of the body is important.
Sometimes, we may be too careful in our words to imply that a fellow Christian is not a part of the body, but still make this statement by our actions or our implications. When we treat certain leaders in the church as more important, and marginalize those without extroverted qualities, we’re suggesting that we don’t need some of the parts of the body of Christ. This is obvious when we give preference to those with money or influence (see James 2:2-4 for a warning). Or, it can be more subtle when we greet the people we know or like, and pass by those who don’t look as “cool” or “church-like”, without even making eye contact.
Later in this chapter, notice the goal: Not just everyone getting along, but a complete lack of division. All members of the body work together, and share in both bad and good times.
so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 NASB
(See also 1 Corinthians 1:10 and Colossians 3:12-15.) When the body is healthy, it all works together. Each part of the body (that is, each Christian) does his or her part for the good of the body, and each part connects with the rest – for good times and bad times.
I hope that you are part of a healthy community of believers. If not, let me suggest the following steps:
- Realize that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you are part of the body of Christ.
- Do your part to contribute to the overall body. This is less about contributing financially (although that’s not wrong to do), and more about fulfilling the role for which God made you.
- Recognize others as also being part of the body of Christ. All of His followers are part of this body, whether we like them or not (or vice versa). A a result, may we – even if it’s difficult – learn to treat them that way.
Let us be involved in “body-building” each day!