I’m reading 1Corinthians 12 and realize it’s an object lesson. Paul is taking something that everyone is familiar with and trying to make a point about something they still have much to learn about.
At issue is their ignorance around the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts. That there are a variety of gifts but only a single Source, the Spirit of God (12:4). That there are various manifestations of the Spirit’s enabling but that all are to be for the common good (12:7). That while these gifts are attached to individuals they are apportioned and empowered by “one and the same Spirit” (12:11).
And so, to convey this idea of many different parts but one divine purpose, Paul holds up the human body as an example. Look in the mirror, he says, and know that the church is like you . . . fearfully and wonderfully made.
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. . . . Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
(1Corinthians 12:12-14, 27 ESV)
I’m reading through the detail Paul provides of his object lesson and for a moment I get lost in the object he is describing and lose sight momentarily of the point he is trying to make. Paul talks about the body. Many members. Each with a role to play. Each different, yet a vital part of the whole. Its beauty found in its diversity, without which it becomes grotesque–what would a body look like if all its members were an eye? Its purpose realized not as each part does the same thing, but as each part does that which God has ordained. Parts that seem weaker but are actually indispensable. Parts thought of as less honorable are held in high honor as they fulfill their role in the body. Parts, like the intestine, that you really wouldn’t show off, as you would your beautiful hair, but without which you’d die.
I’m reading Paul’s description of the human body and my mind flashes to Psalm 139 . . .
For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mothers womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:13-14 ESV)
And it hits me, when was the last time I looked upon the spiritual body of Christ with the same awe and wonder I experience when I pause and reflect on the human body of men. Sure, the church isn’t perfect . . . but, hey Pete, have a look in the mirror . . . there’s a bit of work to be done there too.
But the church, like our bodies, is God’s creation. As we consider the meticulous and miraculous way our bodies have been put together, we should also see the purposefulness and power with which Christ’s body is being formed. As we consider all that our bodily members do and how they work in concert, it should renew our appreciation of the diversity of enabling within an assembly of believers and compel to us to work together, in His power, to accomplish His purpose.
What if, when we walked into our various gatherings this Sunday, we paused, looked out at our brothers and sisters in Christ and were blown away by these Spirit empowered members of Christ? What if we took just a moment, considered the church, despite all her imperfections and opportunities, and whispered, “Fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Would it not remind us of His abundant grace? Would it not, in some measure, bring Him much deserved glory?
I’m thinkin . . .