1 Corinthians 12:12-31a - One Body but many members

Back in 2010 Maz and I went to view a special exhibition of the human body that had undergone ‘Plastination’ and the sub process of ‘sheet plastination’ where cut sections of an organ or body is displayed. Being nurses, it really did intrigue us and also made possible the viewing of various ‘members’ of the human body ‘in situ’, together with appreciation of the interconnectedness of these body members or organs. I walked away from this exhibition profoundly encouraged by what we had witnessed and found myself also appreciating the wonderful inspiration of the Holy Spirit that enabled the Apostle Paul to draw the connection between the gifts of the Holy Spirit as apportioned by God and the human body. Having already outlined the centrality of Spiritual Gifts for the life and witness of the Church, (vs 1-11) Paul proceeds to help readers appreciate the ‘why and how’ of this Spiritual resourcing of Disciples of Jesus. (vs 12-31) Between vs 12 and 26 various scenarios are considered and then in vs 27 Paul makes clear his analogy. The various members of a human body operate and function in an interconnected way and every member has an impact on each of the other members; You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is also a member, an organ with a role, function, task and associated responsibilities. This analogy is God-driven creative inspiration that stems from the creator himself.

Working backwards then, into the heart of the analogy, Paul identifies two ‘dysfunctions’ that could occur in this ‘body of Christ’ and he uses the real human body to explain. In vs 15-17 he challenges those who think of themselves as less than God sees them and reminds them that they are gifted and valuable; but differently to others. To them he says, don’t devalue yourself – its not how God sees you and its good because that’s how God has planned it (vs 18-20). Then he addresses those in the Church who might see themselves as not needing other people (vs 21-24a) by demonstrating that it is not acceptable to say to other people “you are not as valuable as me”. He wraps this part up by saying that there should be no division within the assembled body of Christ and you must have equal concern for each and every person. (vs 24b-26)

This is the core of Paul's ‘Theology of Ministry’; its how we are to function. Central to this is the empowering of believers by the Holy Spirit with gifts that enable each disciple to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are to function in an interconnected way that depends on good relational attitude and synergistic effort. We are not all the same, but the focus of our mission is to be the same. How has God gifted you? What part has he called you to play within the Body of Christ?

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