Interrelationships and, yes, community, are paramount to the health of the church.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. – 1 Corinthians 12:21-26
I was talking with some friends a while ago about the intricacies of the human body. The complex intimacy in how our body parts relate with each other was a topic we considered for a good while. Perhaps this sounds like a strange way to think about the human form, but in reality, the way our body interacts is so very intimate. When one organ gets just a little off balance, it’s as if someone knocked over a house of cards. One issue cascades into another and before too long, we’re in the hospital trying to get better. This interrelationship is the example used by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians in an attempt to describe how the church is designed to work as a body.
The verses are almost comical. Considering how parts of the body might talk to or compare themselves with each other is ridiculous. But, in its simplistic and humorous way, Paul provides a strong visual for how the church body is designed to behave. The idea of interrelationships and, yes, community, are paramount to the health of the church. We can’t all be doing the same thing or the body will collapse. We’re meant to be in community with each other, and each of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are needed to maintain a healthy body.
Just as the human body reacts when something is amiss, we react when we see people in our community struggling. If we don’t help those who are struggling in the manner that God’s given us the ability to, we’ve missed an opportunity to strengthen our relationship. God has given us each of us various gifts through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). From God’s intimate relationship with us, we exhibit the fruits of his Spirit as well (Galatians 5:22-23). These gift and fruits are what we’re designed to share with those we find in need, to help restore them to their health in the church body, just as the early church did (Acts 4:32-35). Talk to a least one of your closest relationships and discuss with them the use of your spiritual gifts. How do they see you using your gifts for the maintaining of church body?
By Rich Obrecht