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In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares local church to a body that acts like an extension of Jesus as it does Jesus’ will in the world around it. Sometimes we Christians get so used to this idea that it becomes like a display piece we walk by so much that we stop noticing it. Then we take it for granted and even forget about it entirely as we go about doing our “church thing.”

A body has a lot of parts to it, yet it is all one thing. If you’re missing a part of it, it doesn’t function the same as it could or should. When Paul was talking about all these parts or members of the body, he did it in the context of spiritual gifts and how God gives each person a special set of skills to fill a specific role in the greater whole of the church body. We all need each other because we each do something different, just like the different parts and members of a physical body. We might all have different skills and jobs in the church, but it is the same Holy Spirit who gives us these things. We might each have different functions, but a church itself is one entity.

Paul went on to talk about why each function and member is necessary, and how not doing your job can cause problems for the whole church. If your foot decided that it wasn’t part of your body and quit just because it didn’t get to be the hand, that would cripple the body quite a bit. If your ear decided that it wasn’t going to do its job just because it wasn’t the eye, you’d have another serious problem. If we didn’t each have something different and specific to do, we’d be a useless mass of the same body part, unable to function properly as a whole body. God puts us each in a specific place in a specific church the way He pleases because He knows what each church needs in order to function according to His will.

Paul also talked about how some members and functions might go unseen or be completely unglamorous. Just because you don’t feature prominently and don’t have a pretty job doesn’t mean you’re useless in a church. Just like some of the unseen functions in your body are some of the most necessary ones, so too are some of the unseen ministries in a church.

In relation to that, Paul talked about how we church members should all look out for and take care of each other. When one member suffers, the whole body suffers and needs to do something about it. As a pastor friend puts it: “When you have a toothache, your entire body is miserable and the whole body has to take the tooth to the dentist.” Just like a pain or malfunction in your physical body needs looking after, so too do members need to look after each other in a church. But not only does the whole body suffer with suffering members, the whole body also feels good when other members feel good! Just like maintaining health before you even have a pain or malfunction in your physical body, so too should church members help maintain each other in the church body together.

God gives each church specific members and gives each member specific skills and personalities so that a church body can serve the way God would have it serve wherever it is. Just like your body can’t function in separate pieces, we church members need to get together so we can work together. God made us to need each other so we would function together for our benefit and His glory.

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