1 Corinthians 12: Honor the Body -- Unity and Diversity

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12

Selected Biblical Text
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body -- whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free -- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Cor. 12:12-20 NIV)

Reflecting and Thinking
In the previous chapter, Paul wrote that worship recognizes and strengthens the body of Christ, the church. The body is one and yet has many members. That the body exists both in unity and diversity is a source of honor. The misuse of spiritual gifts at Corinth was separating and dividing, devaluing certain parts of the body. Today's chapter is the first of three chapters that seek to correct abuses and misunderstandings related to the use of spiritual gifts. Paul begins with a reminder about the nature and importance of the spiritual body.
Consider these truths from today's text. The body (the church) is incomplete without every member. The one body has many parts; the one church has many members. The members of the church have a common heritage in their baptism by one Spirit into the one body. In this shared spiritual heritage, past separations and divisions are undone and become meaningless history. Every part of the body is important and necessary. God is the one who has placed variety in the body, according to his desires and the needs of the church. The variety and diversity in the church work for its good, not for its detriment. The many parts do not deny the unity of the body. There is still only one body.

How would you describe the difference between a church that gives only lip-service to its oneness and unity and a church that actually practices unity? Thinking about the two kinds of churches described in the first question, answer the following. What would be the difference in the involvement of every member in the body? How many uninvolved members would there be? What would be the difference in the attendance practices and habits of the members? How many habitual absentees would there be? What would be the difference in the way the church cares for and attends all of its members without partiality? What would be the difference in the way all the members are honored?

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to faithfully live out the reality of unity and diversity in the church. Help us to care more deeply for every member. Help me to find my place and fill it according to the gifts you have given me. Thank you for putting me where you have, in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

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Last updated January 16, 2019