Have you ever watched any of the Monsters Inc. movies? One of the main characters is Mike Wazowski. He’s basically a giant eyeball. He does have a mouth, hands, arms, feet and legs. But for the most part, he’s a walking eyeball. We laugh at him because he looks weird. He’s a bit of a goofball and his primary purpose is to provide comic relief. Why is that? Well, for one thing, his body parts are extremely misproportioned and the singular eyeball is his prominent feature.
Sometimes people in the church give misproportioned attention to certain body parts as well. Meaning, there are those with gifts or skills that can’t help but to be noticed more often than others. Preachers, pastors, teachers and others who are up in front are sometimes given a greater focus as if they are somehow more important than those who work behind the scenes.
The Body of Christ (the church), “has many parts, but all its many parts form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV). Did you hear that? One body. One cohesive body working together for the greater good. Every single part of the body has been designed and created by God for a specific purpose. That goes for our physical bodies as well as the church body. When we elevate one person (or body part) above the others, it diminishes the great value of the other body parts. Paul writes, “God has placed 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). Can you imagine trying to run a marathon if you were only a head? How would you enjoy your favorite meal if you were only an arm? It would be ludicrous to try and navigate life to the fullest without all of your body parts participating together.
Have you ever felt like your life was valueless? Was this because someone in your life told you that? Or was it possibly due to your perception of someone ‘up front’ compared with the service you provide to the church? Maybe you hold the doors open. Maybe you fold bulletins. Maybe you are physically unable to do any visible task – however, you are on your knees, praying for the church and for others in your community and in the world. Do not ever think that your giftings or your commitment to serve is somehow beneath anyone else. You play a vital role in the healthy functioning of the church. Maybe you’ve never even attempted to serve at all because you thought your contribution wouldn’t matter. Let me tell you, your contribution does matter.
Do you realize that the awareness Paul provides to the Corinthian church is a call to unity? He takes special care to emphasize the value of every body part. In fact, he writes, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). That means what happens to the congregation down the street should impact your congregation as well. Have you taken the time to reach out and meet or connect with the churches in your area? If not, why? Stand together for the greater purpose of Christ’s Kingdom. Help out other congregations who are struggling. Pray for them. Ask them to pray for you (maybe they already are praying for you).
As if the body imagery Paul provides were not enough to drive the point home, he goes on to list different gifts or assignments that God has placed in the church, “apostles…prophets…teachers…helping…” (1 Corinthians 12:28). He then asks if everyone teaches or if everyone has the gift of healing and so on (1 Corinthians 12:29). The answer is obviously, ‘no.’ We cannot all perform the same functions in life or in the church. In the same way, all of our vital organs and body parts cannot perform the same functions. We are all uniquely and intentionally designed for a specific purpose. Let us celebrate the Divinely designed diversity He has put in place.
As Paul concludes this chapter, he sets up the most famous love chapter known to mankind, 1 Corinthians 13. You see, even in the church, people sometimes feel envy for the gifts others have. There is no need for envy within the church – especially when you realize that you have special gifts and skills nobody else has. Without your gifts and skills, we would not be a healthy body. On top of that, there is a gift we should all pursue. That gift is love. Without the gift of love, all other gifts are self-serving and meaningless. Let us strive for love while recognizing the giftings God Himself has given to each of us in order to build His Kingdom here on earth.