What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 3) — We Are One Body

In our last post, we saw that God uses the model of family for His Church. He also likens His people to a human body. The two ideas are similar in how they cause us to relate to one another, if we heed them. Let’s take a look at the main passage which describes us as a body, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are still one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body … and have all been made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, “Because I am not the hand, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

But now God has set every one of the members in the body as it has pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where would be the body? But now are they many members, yet only one body.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, how much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body which we think less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; our less presentable parts are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts have no need. But God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to those parts which lacked.

This is so there would be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

In a healthy family, every member is valued. We share each other’s joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats. When one hurts, the rest are empathetic to his or her pain. Little children are not disdained because they are small and weak; they are treated more tenderly. If a family member moves away, passes, or chooses to be estranged, he is sorely missed. A healthy family pulls together as a team.

In a healthy body, every part is also valued. If one part hurts, the whole body is affected. Parts which are naturally weaker and more susceptible to injury (such as the internal organs) are protected, not despised. If a part of the body has to be surgically removed, the rest of the body suffers great hardship. The left eye, ear, leg, or hand does not compete for dominance with the right eye, ear, leg, or hand. They work together.

So it is meant to be in the Church, the “body” of Christ. We are supposed to take special care of those who are weaker or less capable. Those who are sick should be tenderly nursed back to health. Those with less visible functions (like the internal organs of the human body) are vital to the life of the church as a whole, and should be valued accordingly. If someone leaves or passes away, it is like an amputation has taken place: the rest of the body tries to compensate for the loss, but it is not the same without the one who is gone.

In the church body, we should not be envious of one another, vying for dominance. Instead, we should pull together, recognizing the unique purpose God has for each of us. There is room for more than one “eye” or “ear” (the prophetic gifts of spiritually seeing and hearing). In fact, the sight range and depth perception of two eyes working together is better than what one eye can do by itself. In short, we need each other, each fulfilling our God-given purpose, in order for the church to be healthy and fully functional.

Appreciating each other and being willing to work together in the church body is not easy. It takes commitment to unconditional love, as we see laid out in 1 Corinthians 13. It takes dependence upon the Holy Spirit and a continual dying to our own selfish ambitions. Some members of the local body are not as easy to love as others, due to irritating personality quirks or character flaws. We may be tempted to wish they would go elsewhere. But if we can remember that they, too, have a unique, God-designed place to fill, and that the body will be missing a part if they are gone, it helps our own attitude. Many is the time I have asked God to show me the good He sees in a brother or sister, when I couldn’t find much to like. He has been faithful to that prayer, so that when I saw their value from the Lord’s perspective, I came to love them.

In our next post, we’ll look at the Church as an army. We’ll see how that can be good or bad, depending on whether we keep it within the biblical concept of family.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 4 — We Are an Army

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

6 responses to “What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 3) — We Are One Body

  1. Lee Ann,
    Very good description of each part of the body functioning together as one and not competing with each other which is vital for the growth and health of the entire body. Losing one of the “parts” does take its toll on the body, but recovery does take place. Of course, as you pointed out, those who are more difficult to love, those with ” quirks or character flaws” is the challenge and often the obstacle for growth for many of us! Including myself!
    A simple but complicated serious question – What if a person does not know what part of the body they are? They may think they are an “eye”, but they may be a “foot”? If you are going to address this issue later, I can wait until then.
    Blessings and continued prayers!
    Costa

    Like

    • Hi Costa,

      That’s a good question, and one many people struggle with, I think. We will always have a few people who will be off trying to be the wrong body part, often because they perceive a certain function to be more important than others, and they long for the recognition or to feel valued. Most people, though, really do want to know what their place is in the body.

      I think it can take time to find out. What type of service do you notice you do well at, and also enjoy doing? Other people in the body, both pastors and lay people, may notice what we fit into well, and comment on it or encourage us to pursue that. This is one reason it’s so important to be connected relationally with other believers, so they can get to know us. Sometimes it’s trial and error, where we try things we are drawn to and see how it goes.

      We may hear God speak to us about our function, and then we can do our part to learn more about how to fulfill that place. Sometimes, letting church leadership know what we think we’re called to helps them to help us come into that. That depends on the church and the pastor.

      Unlike most parts of the human body, many of us have more than one thing we are supposed to do — not always all at the same time, either. God unfolds new things for us to do over a lifetime. In my younger years, I was part of a worship team, sometimes singing prophetically. I haven’t done the worship team thing for decades, but occasionally still release prophecy through song. I never would have dreamed I would function as a prophetic teacher, but eventually that unfolded, partly because my pastor saw that in me and encouraged me in that direction. But long before that, I had taught Sunday School to elementary-aged children, and home schooled my girls — which were important things to do in themselves, but also were preparation for a totally different kind of teaching function.

      My husband has a strong “helps” gift. He always has, and it is something he delights in doing. So, that just fell into place naturally for him. But he has also functioned as a deacon and elder.

      I guess we have always tried to be people who were willing to serve wherever we were asked to, or wherever we saw an unmet need. Sometimes that worked out well, and other times, not so much. But I think if we have a heart to serve Jesus and His body, He will be faithful to plug us into the things He wants us to do, and we don’t need to sweat it too much.

      Does that explanation help some?

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  2. Lee Ann,
    Excellent!!
    You hit all the important key points I was trying to resolve or was in doubt with. Your explanation does assist me in my current path (or placement) and working in the “Body” of Christ. I have been placed in a “helper” position. More of volunteering to work.
    Thank you again for your explanation!
    Continued blessings & prayers!!
    Costa

    Like

  3. Glennis Torpey

    You are so right on. The Lord told me the other day that we are not really that different from my bee hive. Each of the bees has an important function and each gives their all to doing that with excellence. Even the queen is not more important than another. They seem to delight in having a value and place. May we each delight in the gifts God has given us as part of His body.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for your input, Glennis! Sometimes a word picture, whether it’s a human body, or the bee hive God spoke to you about, helps us to understand so much better the point He wants to get across to us. Thank you for reading at my blog!

      Bless you,
      Lee Ann

      Like

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