The Beautiful Body of Christ
I’ve recently taken up teaching piano lessons, and between that and being a vocal coach, I am continually amazed at what our bodies can do. For example, when we rotate our arm as though we are opening a door handle, the internal movement of our bones is not one solid unit that just turns but actually two separate bones that follow around the circular shape of the rotation (if you put your hand on your opposite wrist and then rotate, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about). The position of our tongue creates different vowel shapes. We can actually teach ourselves to wiggle each toe individually! I don’t know why one would want to, but all this to say, the way God designed our bodies is incredible.
And this picture of a body, with all its different functions, is an analogy that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 12 to describe the way that the church functions and serves one another. Throughout this letter, Paul is addressing a lack of unity among the believers in Corinth on various topics, not the least of which was the structure and daily function of the church. Reminding them that salvation comes from Christ and Christ alone, he addresses in chapter 11 that Christ is the head of the body, not a church leader. And as he goes on to how that plays out then for the rest of the church, he states:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 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. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
So first, we see that we serve because Christ has called us to serve. The local church is not a place where people come to “get” something in exchange for goods or services. No, the local church is a people who gather frequently and serve one another. We are connected through the commonality of the mission Jesus has given us to go and make disciples, and the presence of God’s Spirit in us is what binds us together. When we look around and see all different backgrounds, interests, life stories, preferences, it’s a picture of the unique nature of a local body of believers. And each person is designed by God for something special. Paul continues-
1 Corinthians 12:15-21 If the foot should 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. And if the ear should 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. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 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.”
We serve because we are all uniquely made by God for different functions. If we were a church full of people who just love greeting people, it’s a great sentiment, but no one would ever make it into the front door. If we were a church full of people who love caring for babies, the nursery would not be able to contain the bodies of all of us, let alone the love! We are each given different inner desires and gifts, different life experiences and positions, and we each have a role to play in the daily function of the church. Whether it’s teaching in KidLife or cleaning the bathroom, every part of the local church function has great value in God’s eyes.
1 Corinthians 12:22-27 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
We serve out of a heart captivated by the love of Christ. Paul goes on in chapter 13 to tell us that these gifts of service are meaningless without love. And so regardless of how we might feel about our gifts and abilities, God has a place for everyone in His church to provide a vital function in the encouragement and edification of the local gathering. The people of Grace Life are not an accidental or random collection of individuals, but a beautiful body of believers called to serve one another in love as we live out what God has called us to.
If you’ve been wondering where you fit in, talk to Pastor Matt or myself about the areas that the Spirit is pressing into your heart as you seek to build and be built up in the body of Grace Life Church. You can also sign up to join any of our serve teams here.
Love in Christ,