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.I Corinthians 12:22-26 ESV
The depth of the analogy of the body and the church runs deep. Just this passage shows layer after layer of this comparison, not to mention the other references to this concept in Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews.
In a recent bible study discussion about this concept, one lady said, “I must be the toenail.” She had deduced that toenails were nonessential and so was she. Now, we might all have days we feel non-essential, but just that week I had lost a good chunk of a toenail while running, and I could verify that even a toenail plays an important role in our body function.
While I do not think Paul’s purpose in writing this passage was for us to match body parts to ourselves or others in the local or global congregation, he does have many other purposes in using this illustration.
The church is made up of different people with different roles to play and different gifts.
The church is interconnected, and reliant on one another.
We cannot discredit someone else’s (or our own) place in the body of Christ.
The church is both complex and uniform, diverse and united, many yet one.
I should not diminish someone else’s place, nor should I discredit my own. On the days I feel like a toenail (or appendix or whatever organ I have deemed non-essential), I need to remember that even a cracked or missing toenail affects the whole body. It is not okay for me to sit on the sidelines uninvolved or feeling inadequate. I am a part of the body of Christ and I am indispensable!
What does it look like to function as the body of Christ? The next couple chapters lay that out with a little more detail.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.I Corinthians 13:13 ESV
As I move about my life as the body of Christ, my faith in God and my hope of eternity with him, should overflow in love. Love that sacrifices self. Love that champions others. Love that swallows harsh reactions, love that celebrates, love that shoulders burdens, believes the best, endures the worst.
Love. God’s love. It reconciled me to him and should be the driving force behind each breath I take as a member of the church, his body, on earth.
Loving Father, you have created a marvel in your creation of the Church. The task you call us to would be impossible on our own or with simply human guidelines and so you reminded us to do it all in love. May love craft my everyday as I seek to fill the role you created me for. Thank you for the powerful tool that is the body of Christ and for my part in it. In Jesus name, amen.