Parts of the body

Today’s second reading is probably known to each one of us. We have probably all even heard a version of it outside of church. It is the perfect coach’s “not everyone can be the superstar” pep talk, or the perfect parent “we love you just as much as we love your big brother” talk, or the perfect boss’s “somebody has to stay late and answer the phones” talk.

The reading is an interesting premise, but it seems as though it might a little backwards. The idea that that hand would say that because it is not a foot it does not belong to the body seems unlikely, at least these days. Wouldn’t it be more likely that the hand would say that because the foot is not a hand the foot does not belong to the body? Isn’t it more likely that the response to these pep talks is “who says that I’m not the super star”, or “who wants to be my big brother anyway”, or “why am I always the one to stay late”.

There is an old joke that has all of the body parts arguing over which is the most important part. The head argues that because we are intellectual creatures his thinking is the most important part. The feet arguing that because of our need to go places their walking is the most important part. The heart arguing that because of our need for the blood and circulation his pumping is the most important part. And so on …

The twist comes when a most unlikely part of the body states its case, after all, it claimed, that because of the need to expel waste it is the most important part. After all, if it were to stop working everything would back up making it very uncomfortable for the rest of the body. All of the other parts laughed at this idea as being ridiculous. To which this body part felt that a demonstration was in order. After three-days of “holding back”, the rest of the body conceded to this body part’s contention and begged that it allows things to return to regular, to normal, to whatever.

The moral of that story actually has less to do with first Corinthians and more to do with the nature of those people that typically feel that they should be in charge, but it does have some relevance to today’s message. The significance of the unique aspects of the parts of the human body speaks well to the unique talents and characteristics that we all bring to the Body of Christ.

Have you ever taken one of those personality type tests? Myers Briggs or something like that? You have to answer all of these obscure questions from which different psychological preferences are indicated. There is no telling how many times I have taken different versions of that test and I always seem to come up with the same preferences. Here is a big surprise, the questionnaire seems to think that I am an extrovert. Go figure!

The purpose of these exercises is not to label or pigeonhole an individual it is, or so they say, to determine how to form teams and partner individuals. The premise is that a team of pure extroverts would never get anything done, although they would be sure to let everyone what a good job they had done in not getting anything done.

The premise is that we need a team of individuals that bring different talents, perspectives and eccentricities to the tasks at hand. Interesting how it took 2000 years for two researchers to figure out what St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians.
“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?

Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?”
For me there are two take aways from this reading. The first is that we are all individually significant. God knows us, know our part and is incomplete without each one of us. Meaning that saying “I am too short” or … “too tall”, or … “too shy” or … “too loud”, is just ridiculous. You are exactly the right “short” or “tall” or “shy” or “loud”. God made you that way because He needs you exactly that way. St. Paul said that “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary,and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.”

God needs us just exactly the way that we are! Isn’t it amazing to consider the fact that God, creator of the entire universe is incomplete without us and our individual part. It reminds me of the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas where Charlie Brown tells Pig Pen,
“Don’t think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. He may be carrying soil that was trod upon by Solomon, or even Nebuchadnezzar.”

And this idea highlights my second take away. This one can actually be more difficult that the first to understand; God know the person next to us as well as us. And He know that person’s part and is incomplete without each one of them as well.

No don’t get me wrong, any one of us may not be living up to the person that we truly are. We may be a “prophet” and not know it, or be a “teacher” and not believe that it is possible, but that is a different issue. If we can accept that we are deeply, individually, personally loved by God. Then, we have to accept that the person next to us is also deeply, individually, personally loved by God. And here is the kicker, if God loves us and loves the person next to us then who are we not to love that person equally, deeply, individually and personally.

What we sometimes forget is that when our Lord and Savior hung from that cross, He looked down on each one of us equally. He saw a body of individuals, unique in our talents, unique in our strengths, unique in our weaknesses. And He loved each one of us completely. The part that we cannot forget is that He asked us to in turn to love each other completely as well.

“But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

COR 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “
it does not for this reason belong any less to 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?
But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

January 23, 2022

January 23, 2022

Print your tickets

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com