We are the body of Christ.
That’s what the Apostle Paul claims.
The living, breathing, body of our Lord. The visible presence of the Risen Christ.
And each of us, an individual part of that body, with far greater value and responsibility than we can possibly imagine.
The motive for Paul’s 19 verse soapbox on “body ethic” was to address the toxic matter of social distinctions that had begun to emerge within the Corinthian community of faith. It was assumed then and there, just as it is possible to assume here and now, that some members of the Body of Christ are more important, more valued, more necessary, than others.
Paul systematically dismantles such assumptions with a recurring phrase:
“If the whole body were…”
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12:14-19)
While Paul’s point is clear (all have equal value within the Body), the question he raises provokes worthy reflection on another level.
If the whole body really were to be a WHOLE body, with every single member living up to and into her or his fullest identity and calling, could you imagine the unspeakable force for good the church would be in the world? Could you imagine what great presence of love we would become?
If the WHOLE body were…
active, alert, attentive, bold, believing, connected, Christ-like, compassionate, content, disciplined, daring, devoted, do-ers, engaged, equipped, empowered, ego-emptied, focused, formed, forgiving, faithful, free, grateful, generous, giving, grace-centered, humble, hopeful, helpful, hospitable, inclusive, intentional, informed, joyful, just, Jesus-following, kingdom-keeping, learning, leading, loving, mobilized, missional, mature, non-judging, optimistic, outspoken, passionate, praying, patient, present, poured-out, peace-making, quick-to-forgive, reasonable, responsive, responsible, radical, sent, serving, sacrificial, self-emptying, tough-minded, tender-hearted, tested, tried, true, teachable, understanding, un-wavering, un-relenting, vibrant, vocal, warm, welcoming, willing, wise, worshipping, xenophilous, yearning, zealous…
Could you imagine?
I can. And I want you to join me.
A new four-part sermon series begins October 28th.
Join us for “If The Whole Body Were…”
Rev. Dr. Shaun King
Johns Creek Baptist Church