The bride of Christ and the building of Christ are to ways that the church has been described in the New Testament. The third major description of the church is that of the body of Christ. The bride speaks of the churches relationship to Christ and the building speaks of the churches growth. The body describes the diversity and unity that is found in the church.
DIVERSITY OF THE BODY (I Corinthians 12:14-17)
One body (1 Corinthians 12:14). Very quickly and plainly the apostle Paul shares that the body is not made up of one “member.” There are no lone rangers in the body of Christ and there is no way to say that one person is more important than another. The body of Christ is made up of believers across the globe and is the visible body of Christ on Earth.
To demonstrate that the body does not have a hierarchy of parts Paul compares the “foot” to the “hand” (vs. 15) and the “ear” to the “eye” (vs. 16). All are needed and useful. We are bond together by the Spirit and “the members of the body cannot opt out of the body. (Prime, Opening Up 1st Corinthians, 2005)
One body not one part (1 Corinthians 12:17). In order to be a body there has to many parts. We cannot all be “an eye” or else there would not be a body. The Lord has distributed the gifts of the Spirit among believers so that the body can be strong and built up.
UNITY OF THE BODY (1 Corinthians 12:18-26).
The Lord is the equipper of the church and has “set the members” (vs. 18) in the body. Among local congregations throughout the world they have been gifted with a balance of workers that are able to perform many ministries in the name of Christ. There ability to work together for the Lord helps us see that in the midst of great diversity that there is unity instead of being “one member” (vs. 19).
Placed in the body for a purpose (1 Corinthians 12:20-21). Our diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and gifts are bond together in the love of Christ through the Spirit that we are “one body” (vs. 20). That love would prevent us from separating the pieces of the body by viewing others as useless. We cannot look at a brother or sister in Christ and say, “I have no need of you” (vs. 21).
Placed in the body regardless of skill (1 Corinthians 12:22-23). While there may be those that seem “feeble” (vs. 22) it is still ungrounded for on part to feel superior to another. We offer help to each other by our presence in the body regardless of our gift and the degree in which we possess it. We quickly discover that in the absence of those that would seem beneath are essential. So we give them more “honor” (vs. 23) because of their hidden importance.
Placed in the body to help each other (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). Even though there are certain individuals that don’t have “need” (vs. 24) so that there will be no “schism” (vs. 25, or tearing apart, God has given each other care over all others. It may not feel like it but the reality is that in God there is no big “I’s” or little “u’s.” Values of believers is togetherness and community.
Placed in the body to share (1 Corinthians 12:26). Our connection by the same Spirit that indwells all believers also bears our emotions together. Like a body that is wounded in one spot and the whole body gives us resources to heal that wound, the members of the body of Christ share together in the pain. The opposite is also clear. When one is “honored” (vs. 26) all members are joyful. Jealousy and coldness to other members would be uncharacteristic of believers.
A BODY BUILT TO GROW TOGETHER (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)
The church is indeed one living organism but each local church and individual can be considered a “particular” (vs. 27) organ within the church. We must not forget that each person has a personal relationship with Christ but their individual gifts are given to the church as the whole.
From the gifts there are different administrations and operations in the church where the gifts are employed. God has set “some” (vs. 28) in the churches noting that we are different and have different tasks we perform.
Paul asks a set of rhetorical questions in which the answer is no. Not all are “prophets” (vs. 29) nor do we all speak with “tongues” (vs. 30). How limited we would be in our reach if that we all were the same? In our individual life and churches we should “covet” or desire multiple gifts to employ. As well as desiring a multitude of different gifts within the body of Christ and our local expression of that body.