Below is one of my favourite passages in 1 Corinthians that shows us the image of the church as one body with many parts working together.
1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
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.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
This passage is one of my favourites to read because of the image it portrays of the church. I really love the picture of the one body made up of many parts that need each other to be able to perform as the body. How can I pick up my cup of coffee with my hand without my arm, shoulder, eyes, brain and many other parts of my body working with it to help me lift it up to then drink? I find it helpful to look at church this same way. We all have different gifts and as such different parts to play in the body. The thing that hits home the most for me in this passage is that we cannot do anything alone. In order for the body to work well and thrive we need to be using our gifts together. So how does this work in practice? It means using what you are good at to help others see Jesus. Sometimes this means doing jobs that are not glamorous or fun, but doing them to show others the love God has poured out on us.
For me this passage is a great reminder that no gift is better than the other is. God has given all different gifts that work together for the good of others. We cannot say that we don’t need each other because we do. A hand is no good without the arm it is connected to and cannot move without the muscles and nerves telling it how to work. It is the same with us. Our gifts aren’t much use without others around. I’m so thankful for all of the different gifts that people in our church (body) have. It’s so great knowing that I don’t have to be able to do everything. I just need to focus on doing what God has gifted me to do and encourage others to do the same. If we are all focusing on using our gifts to serve God then it takes the pressure off.
Head: Re-read verses 4-6. How do you think this impacts the way we look at our gifts and the gifts of those around us?
Heart: Do you find yourself envying others with different gifts? Is this helpful to you and them? How can you be more thankful for the gifts we have all received?
Hands: Can you identify 1 or 2 people within our church community that you are thankful for the part they play? Let them know that you are thankful for them. Spend some time praising God for the gifts of all the people he has placed in our church.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you have provided different people in our church community all with different gifts that work together to show your love to others. Please help me to be thankful for everyone as they play their part in the body. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A song to listen to: The One Who Made Us One
This Grow Daily was first posted as part of our Love My Church Series.