Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Observation: Paul tells the Corinthians that the church is a body, made up of many parts. All parts are important and have a role to play. We all have spiritual gifts, designed to build up the church.
Application: In the fall of 2014, I developed tendonitis in my left foot. Eighteen months later, it still plagues me every time I run – it stiffens up, it throbs, and it leaves me hobbling around like someone three times my age. When I started doing physical therapy for it last year, my therapist explained that it’s actually a few very small tendons in my foot that are causing the pain – yet it’s having an affect on my whole body. (Most of the stretches and exercises I did were hip-related, not foot-related, because that’s where a lot of the tension begins. Crazy, right?)
The church is just like a body, and it needs all parts to function well. Every single person has a gift, a purpose, a reason they’re part of the body. We’re all connected in some way, and just like my hip movement affects my foot, each person who’s a part of the body of Christ affects the others.
We can’t function without one another.
Here’s how Paul puts it in verse 18:
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.”
God has put each part just where he wants it.
Think about your own body, your own church community. For me, that means there are about 1,000 different adults who were designed by God with a passion, a purpose, and a part – every single one of them has a purpose.
The person who’s recovering from a drug addiction has a purpose. The single mom with four kids who barely get to church on time has a purpose. The 21-year-old guy who curses like a sailor and is still not quite ready to let go of his atheism but shows up to church week after week has a purpose. The older man who’s experiencing homelessness and comes for a free cup of coffee and warm place to hang out every Sunday morning has a purpose. The chatty teenager, the reserved co-worker, the overly obnoxious louder woman, the successful COO, the unemployed dad – they each have a purpose.
If I’m honest and peel back the layers of my own selfish heart, I don’t always see people and see their purpose. I want to, I really do, but sometimes, I see their junk first. I see their addictions and their shortcomings and their sins and their frustrating habits. I see them for what they do, not for who they are. And what a loss for me! Because when I finally change my perspective, when I start to see them as God sees them, I see people with purpose, not people with problems. Paul puts it like this:
“In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” (verse 22)
The weakest and the least have the greatest purpose in the community of faith. While we see our imperfections as a way to hold us back, Jesus sees them as a way to push as forward. He knits them into the fabric of our lives, and they become a necessary part of our story, our purpose, our church, our world.
Let’s see people for their purposes, not their problems. Let’s unify together, let’s heal one another, let’s love patiently, value deeply, hold tightly.
Prayer: God, thank you for giving us each a purpose. I pray you’ll help open my eyes to each individual, that I’ll see them the way you see them, and I pray you’ll help me see myself the way you see me. Amen.