1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
My brother was an exemplary farmer. He tended the land, worked hard and respected the danger and power of the machinery that he worked with. But one day, he was in a hurry to dump a load of wheat and get back to the field. He caught his gloved hand in the grain augur. Before he could pull it back, his little finger was mangled. Clutching his bleeding hand to his chest, he drove home and his wife drove him to the hospital. The surgeons sewed the dirtied and bloodied appendage back into one piece. They flooded his body with antibiotics to stave off infection. The finger was saved!
But, after a few weeks, he noticed that he had no feeling and no movement in the finger. The muscles and nerves were so damaged that the finger could no longer do its part. In fact, the finger actually hindered him in his work. He went back to the hospital and had the finger amputated. Using the metaphor that Paul uses in I Corinthians 12, we could say that even though the finger was in some sense a "member" of the body, it was not a partner in the body's ministry. Is our connection to the body of Christ merely a formal membership, or does the lifeblood of Christ, the crackling energy of the Spirit, flow through and empower us?
O God, you have lovingly made us part of the body of Christ. Continue to work in us so that your Christ-bringing Spirit might work through us. Amen.
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a (NRSV)
12 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.
27Now 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.