“Parts is parts”— really?
1Cor. 12:22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
1Cor. 12:23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect;
1Cor. 12:24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member,
1Cor. 12:25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.
Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, this congregation that seemed to have on-going difficulties and dissension. The people in this community of faith had come from all walks of life. Some of them were rich, others were poor, some were men, some were women, some had respectable jobs, others had been temple prostitutes, and yet they were all now a part of the same church — the body of Christ.
This community was like nothing the world had experienced. These members had been brought together by their baptism into belief in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit bound them together in a new body, one in which every single member was necessary and had their place. And yet the attitudes of the world were contaminating this new body of Christ. Paul was gravely concerned for the way in which each member of the body was treated was a direct indication as to the spiritual condition of the body as a whole.
This church was to be a new organism in which all were invited to the table. No longer were cultural power structures to divide the community, but the presence of the Holy Spirit was the uniting factor. This counter-cultural community of faith was to be so radically different from anything in the world that those on the outside should have been able to look at them and say, “see how they love one another.”
Years ago there was an old Wendy’s commercial that talked about chicken parts. As a matter of fact, you can remind yourself by watching it here.
In that commercial parts of chickens were cut up and then formed back together to make a chicken breast — and they joked about “parts is parts.” The problem with the chicken made up of parts was that it was unnatural. Chopped up parts formed back together to make it look like it was some kind of other part.
That’s not the way it’s supposed to be in the body of Christ. We are not supposed to take our different and unique parts and chop them up and reconstitute them into something unnatural. No — what we hear from Paul is that every single part of the body of Christ is important — in its current shape and form. And in the natural shape and form the entire body is united together to be something beautiful.
Sadly, even in the body of Christ there is a temptation to allow the attitudes of the world to infect us so that we begin to believe that some parts are more valuable than others. All of this depends on our own perspective regarding the parts. There may be those who believe that persons in particular positions are more important than other parts of the body of Christ. But remember the more visible parts can only function well because of those that function behind the scenes. The heart beating within the chest is not visible, but without it, the entire organism would die!
The body of Christ is more beautiful and much healthier when every part is allowed to function at its full capacity. This happens when the body is well nourished and care is given to every member of the body. Every member of the body is encouraged to grow and develop to their fullest potential, becoming the best part of the body they can be and enjoying the encouragement of the other members as we cheer one another on. For you see, we are not a community of chopped up parts, trying to create a homogeneous whole because “parts is parts” doesn’t work when it comes to the body of Christ. Every part of the body of Christ is a part of his creation with an intention to be a reflection of the glory of God. No part is too great nor too small within the body. Instead, each part is special and unique and brings special glory to the Father.
May we never suppress the working of a member of the body of Christ, and may we continually rejoice in the blessings of the unique giftings of each part. And through it all may the world look at us and say, “see how they love one another.”
Lord, thank you for the unique parts of your body. Amen.