I don’t know if this happens to many other priests. But occasionally after preaching, I have a line or two from the sermon I preach follow me for the week afterwards. This has been on if those weeks.
Last week we heard one of Paul’s great sections from his first letter to the Corinthians, the unity and diversity in the body. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12. I started my sermon by talking about baptism, because it had been a hot topic over the previous weeks, and there was a baptism within the benefice also, I spoke about the joy the church should feel when accepting a new member of the body of Christ “in one Spirit we were all baptised into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
I continued by exploring what that body looked like, the body of the church was similar to our own physical bodies, they are made up of different parts, but each part of them equally necessary. And it’s true, we need all our different members if we are to be the fully functioning body of Christ.
Now, it is this next part that has been haunting me.
I’m not sure that the church (both locally or internationally) behaves as if really believe this.
Do we as a church believe that each member of church is equally as important? Because we certainly don’t behave like we do a lot of the time. Between self deprecation and judgement on others, where is that belief that we are all and important part of the one body?
“There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1Corinthians 12:25)
But do we? Do we have equal concern for each other?
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing and behaving as if one member is more important then the other, or one member is more useful then others. I wish I had a £1 for every time I heard someone say that they are not good enough, clever enough, enough enough to do things within the church and within their own lives. Did God not give us the gifts which make us enough? Did a god not give us what we need to be enough in is eyes?
I wish I were more like…….. they are so……………….
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:29-30)
As a church, I don’t think we do behave as if each member is of equal importance to the body, there are times and places where members do claim superiority over other members. I take some comfort that the church in Corinth fell into this trap also, which is why I am grateful for Paul’s words. We know Paul’s answer to the question he poses in verses 29 and 30.
We need to work harder in accepting all, and the variety of gifts that they bring. We need to work harder in seeing people for who God has made them. We need to work harder in seeing everyone’s role in the body.
If we are to continue Christ’s mission in the world, we need to start acting a little more like his body. Together with our brothers and sisters, both close at hand and far away, we are the Body of Christ. We are called to live that identity, and to engage in the mission that comes with it….
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12.
…..not later, when we’ve got our act together, or when it’s more convenient, when our health is better or we have more time on our hands. Not later but TODAY.