In the psychology class that I am teaching, we recently discussed the development of a fetus and how at specified times, the cells began to differentiate. As the cells were rapidly reproducing, something triggered in that cell determining it to be part of the liver, so it migrated to the abdomen. Another cell was determined to be a brain cell, so it moved to the head region with each area of the body gathering the cells it needed to develop and function. This certainly is a simplistic explanation of a wonderfully complex event in the development of a fetus, but it could be another analogy of the body of Christ that might complement that given to us by Paul.
Paul needed to draw a clear picture of the body of Christ to the Corinthian church which was struggling with divisions, cliques and spiritual hierarchy. Clever Paul drew a visual picture for them to help them understand what it meant to be part of the body of Christ. He created a word picture of a human body, with arms, legs, eyes, hands and stomach that are working together as part of one body. In Paul’s analogy, he is telling them (and us) that the church is like this; as we became members of the body of Christ, we gave up our piecemeal identity as an arm, leg or eye and took on the more full and complete identity as part of a body---that of Christ-- resurrected and sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is in identifying as part of this more comprehensive body that we are able to shed labels, distinctions, status and control, for we are all equally part of this same body.
Whimsical Paul then goes on to present a picture of a body that is made up of all eyes (then how would we hear) or all ears (then how would we see). The picture that creates in our minds is like that of a cartoon monster---grotesque and dysfunctional. The body of Christ is the same; no one role is bigger or better than the other. They all work together for efficiency and effectiveness. This doesn’t diminish the parts, it makes them more significant. We gain our identity and significance not as an individual, but from the more comprehensive body of which we are a part. This also creates an interdependence among the parts, for if we diminish any of the other parts, we are diminished as well. No part is more desired; nor is any part less desired. As one part hurts, all parts are affected. And as one part grows stronger, again, all parts are affected.
Paul tells us that we are each a part of the body of Christ and gifted by God to contribute to the body. Some gifts are flashy and wonderful, others are more subtle and quiet; however, all gifts come from God and are needed for the body to be complete, functional and healthy.
So, take a moment to reflect:
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