All the Members Make the Body
In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, the apostle Paul emphasizes the functional diversity and spiritual unity of the Body of Christ. But Paul knows that based on how things naturally work, diversity of function within the body might lead to some people within body thinking that because their giftedness is different than others, then they really aren’t very important. But Paul’s point, really through most of chapter 12, can be summed up with what he says in verse 22: “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” Paul wants us to understand that every member is indispensable to the body.
Look at the way he argues this beginning in verse 14.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should 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 should 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.
Paul’s illustration here is a bit silly, but that’s exactly his point. He wants us to see our natural tendencies as silly. Here he personifies body parts and has the foot and the ear looking around at other body parts that have different functions than they do and coming to the conclusion that because of their differences, they are not really part of the body. This is not even just the foot or the ear coming to the conclusion that they are insignificant compared to the hand or the eye, they are actually coming to the conclusion that they’re not part of the body at all.
Now that might seem silly, but this is actually exactly the error of a common teaching that says that unless you demonstrate that you have the Spirit of God by practicing a particular gift—whether it be tongues, or prophecy, or something else—then there’s no evidence you’re really a Christian, or at very least you’re not a Spirit-filled Christian. This is exactly what some versions of Christian doctrine teach.
On the contrary, what Paul is teaching here is that no part of the body ought to look at another part of the body and conclude that you’re really not part of the body because you can’t do or don’t do what those members of the body do. No, a diverse gift does not exclude you from the body, or to make it even perhaps more realistic, a diverse gift does not make you a less significant part of the body. All members, because of their diversity, make up the body.
About Scott Aniol
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.