Through the New Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:1-26 – The body of Christ

Read in English Bible Passage English   Read in New Testament Greek Bible Passage Greek   Greek Notes Greek Notes on Reading for Today

Paul learned key elements of his Christian theology in a blinding flash on the Damascus road. It was there that he was confronted by the risen Saviour who stopped him in his tracks with the question, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul learned that there is an intimate relationship between Christ and his people; to persecute them is to persecute him; they are the body of Christ.

In a continuation of the theme we were looking at yesterday, Paul applies this picture to the argumentative Christians at Corinth. They were baptised into one body – the body of Christ – and they all share in the one Spirit – the Spirit of the risen Christ. They may differ one from another not only in natural abilities but also spiritual giftedness and gifts; nevertheless, they form one body in Christ. Indeed, such differences are vital to the proper functioning of the body, “If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear?” Their gifts are complementary, and the needs of each are an opportunity to receive help and ministry from another.

There are many reasons why we should value one another in the Christian family. The first and most fundamental is that the “other” is also a member of the body. If Christ so loved that person that he gave himself for them, should not I also love them and value them? Secondly, Paul reminds us that we need each other just as each part of a body needs the other parts. We cannot function properly without them. When we are tempted to feel that our church would be better off without that awkward person we deceive ourselves and fail to value them as Christ has valued them – and we have over-valued ourselves. Each member is necessary; each is to be valued. Because you all belong to Christ, you belong to one another and belong together.

Paul writes that, “there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24). It is both painful and damaging when Christians fall out. It is a wound in the body and may even cause lasting disability. We belong to one another; let us value one another and cherish one another.

Father in heav’n,
You saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Jesus our Lord,
forgive our foolish pride,
heal our divisions
no device can hide;
come, heal the wounds
which spoil your chosen bride.

See how your body
is broken and torn,
mocked by the crowds and
the object still of scorn.

Father in heav'n,
you saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Come mighty Spirit
of truth and of love,
visibly fill us
with life from above.

Father in heav'n,
you saved us by your Son,
now by your Spirit
make your children one
that all may see
your kingdom here begun.

Lord, help me not only to be a faithful follower of you but also a ready servant of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to value each one of them as you have valued them. Help me to value and encourage their gifts and to encourage and strengthen them in their weakness, even as I need such strengthening and encouragement myself. By the power of your Spirit, may I bring healing, health and blessing to your body. May I never be a thorn in the flesh of your body.

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Peter Misselbrook