Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." - 1 Corinthians 12:12
What's the most important organ in your body? Is it your heart? Or your lungs? Or you kidneys? Certainly you need all of them to stay alive, and if you took one away (your liver for example) the rest of the organs would be essentially useless because the body would die.
For a human body to function as it was designed to function, every part of the body must be present and healthy and operating at full capacity. Otherwise, the body grows weak and the health of the body is at risk.
In the Body of Christ, every member is essential for life. According to the scriptures, no part of the body is more important than another. They are all designed to work in harmony and for the benefit of one another, as directed by the brain - or the head - who is Christ.
In the Body of Christ we are called to elevate (or edify) one another, not ourselves, and not any one person or group of persons.
Because every part of the Body is essential, it's wrong to elevate one member above another in terms of importance. The only part of the body that should ever be exalted over another is Jesus and He is always at the top.
This doesn't mean that none of us in the body is important, it means all of us are important. Not just important, but essential, because we need one another to function as a healthy, living organism. However, we are all equally essential. None of us is more essential, or less essential. Only Christ is the Head. We are all only organs within the Body. Our purpose is to encourage one another and to hold the Head high.
Just as our physical bodies need every organ to work as designed, so too our churches need to be composed of equally essential members who are equipped to serve one another in love.
If we understand this concept, as Paul lays it out for us in 1 Corinthians 12, we begin to see how important it is for everyone in our fellowship to understand their spiritual gifting, and to participate when we gather, and to fully realize their potential in the Body of Christ. When everyone works as God designed them to, the Body is healthy and Christ is exalted as our Head.
Who is the head of your church? Is it one of your fellow organs? Or is it Jesus Himself?
In the Church that God designed, only Jesus is the head, and all of the members of the Church are gifted individually to serve and edify and encourage and teach and help one another in love. Your heart cannot pump blood and also do the work of the liver or the lungs. It can only do what it was designed to do. When only a few organs attempt to do all the work in the Body, the rest of the members suffer because they are not allowed to do what they were designed and gifted to do. The organs doing triple duty are also suffering because they are taking on more than their fair share of the work.
"But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." - 1 Corinthians 12:18-20
If a body's organs aren't working as God intended, you have a sick body. If the church doesn't operate as an organism, with every member contributing to the health and well-being of others, it's not the Body of Christ. At least, not in the sense that Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 12.
Some have argued that what Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12 is "descriptive" but not "prescriptive". To those people I would ask, "What is this passage descriptive of?" Is it not descriptive of what Paul understood to be God's model for how His Body should function? Is it not a description of how we can truly serve one another in love and humility? Is it not a description of a New Testament form of Church?
Whether or not you take Paul's instruction as prescriptive or not, I think you at least have to admit that he was describing how the Church was designed to operate and in what way we can actually function as a Body, with Christ as our Head.
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." - Romans 12:10
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." - Ephesians 5:21