A Beautiful Body
It's pretty safe to say that most people have at least one thing they would change about their physical body. But what about when it comes to their spiritual body -- the body of Christ? Let's look at 1 Corinthians 12 and discover four practical ways we can help improve the church and build a beautiful body, so to speak.
1. Recognize variety. "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all" (vv. 4-6; see also vv. 7-11).
God loves variety, doesn't He? There are no clones in the kingdom; there's not one group He works through to the exclusion of everyone else. There are many different spiritual gifts in the church and many different personalities through which those gifts are expressed. Don't fight that variety -- enjoy it.
2. Emphasize unity. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (vv. 12-13).
Letting the members of the church do their own thing without cohesiveness can lead to anarchy, but a variety of gifts balanced with unity of purpose brings profit to all (see v. 7). That means the gift God has given you isn't for individual gratification but mutual edification. When Christ as the Head of the body sends out messages to the rest of the body through the Holy Spirit, then all the members can operate smoothly together.
3. Maximize equality (see vv. 14-20). Whenever the body of Christ emphasizes one gift over the others, it often causes people who don't have that gift to feel discontent and stop participating in church life. But the church, like a human body, requires every part to function, and because of that, all parts share a certain equality. It would be absolutely ridiculous "if the whole body were an eye" (v. 17), for example. What good would a six-foot eyeball be? Yet we make six-foot eyeballs when we elevate one gift over another. There's no such thing as an unnecessary part of the church body. Just because someone isn't as visible as someone else doesn't mean they're not important.
4. Minimize self-sufficiency. Verses 21-22 describe the person who says, "I don't need the other parts of the body. I've got all it takes right here." That kind of Lone Ranger mentality goes completely against the purpose of the church. The church is meant to be a community of redeemed people on display to the unbelieving world. When the world sees a beautiful, vibrant body working together, it makes an impact for the gospel.
So I encourage you to figure out what your gift is and then use it to better the church. I've found this to be one of the most important truths in the Bible and one of the most exciting to be part of: there are many gifts, but one body and one Lord. Variety and unity together.