12: “…Your body has many parts--limbs, organs, cells--but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ.” – Paul addresses the split in the Corinthian church by creating an analogy that depicts life with Christ as an organic model where each part is fully dependent on the other, thus creating a living, fully functional body.
13: “By means of His one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which He has the final say in everything.” – It is the Holy Spirit that ties us together, uniting our diversity to accomplish God’s purpose.
14: “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.” – We are not to limit our Spiritual Gifts in some humbling way in order that we don’t stick out above the crowd. Instead, we are to recognize how much more our gifts can be enhanced when we work together within the body of Christ.
18: “As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.” – God’s intent should always be our focus.
19: “But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.” – Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.
25: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church…” – No part is insignificant. Each plays an important role tied together with each other. When one hurts, we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice.
27: “You are Christ's body--that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything.” – When searching for God’s purpose in your life, evaluate how you are connected with the body. Perhaps your significance is waiting for you to connect.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you envious of other people’s gifts and talents?
Does it seem to you that some people have been overly-blessed and filled with amazing amounts of talent? That they seemingly can do anything they set their mind to from singing to playing musical instruments, to writing, and teaching? What does Paul’s letter to the Corinthians teach you about these thoughts? Do you now recognize that your gifts and talents are just as important to the body as the most gifted person you have ever seen? Does it teach you that we all can’t be singers and songwriters, that it is the diversity of our gifts that makes the body of Christ whole?
Do you lack patience with those whose gifts are less obvious than yours? Are you focused on perfection to the point that you limit those who in someway don’t measure up to your standards? If a person sings off-key should they be kept out of the choir? If a person’s prayer style is less than inspiring, should they not be asked to pray? How do you balance between quality and inclusiveness? Is this your concern or God’s? Do you see how Paul’s letter teaches us that these thoughts of superiority or exclusivity are dangerous and damaging to God’s kingdom?
Do you feel that you have no gift or talent? Were you, in someway, absent when the gift bag was opened? Did you miss out and now have nothing to offer? Are you also struggling with understanding God’s purpose for your life? Can you accept Paul’s advice and evaluate your “connectedness” to the body of Christ? Is it possible that you are a star that is ready to burst forth its light into the heavenly sky once you surround yourself with other heavenly bodies? Do you see that no one is able to go it alone; that it is the connection to Christ through His love and the fellowship of others that causes your star to burn bright? Promises of the Gospel:
Paul’s analogy helps us to understand the importance that each of us plays in the building of the Kingdom of God. Not only are we each specially gifted by God for a purpose, uniquely crafted with care and intent, but we are also designed to fit, with all our diversity, into the body of Christ. When we connect with the Body, our gifts are enhanced and glorified by the gifts of others and then, as a symphony, we together glorify God. Christ lives within us. We each are a part, an important part, of the whole that we know as Christ. When our gifts and talents are focused on Him and when we allow His Spirit to fill and guide us, then the whole world experiences the wonders of God. And we all rejoice together. Amen!