(1 Corinthians 12:12-26)
When the gospel was first preached by Jesus Christ Himself, and subsequently by those who learned it directly from Him, there was only one body. There was one message, one truth and one way that was taught to all the people of the early church.
But as time went on and those who walked with Christ and spoke with Him passed away the message changed. People who were using Christianity as a means for personal power or gain began twisting the message to suit their own desires. And we even saw the beginnings of this perversion of the truth in the times of the early church as many of the letters of Paul, John, Peter, Jude and James attested.
Look where we are today. Countless denominations, sects, groups and churches that hold many different teachings, some of which do not accord with the truth of the gospel and others that do.
And we Christians are often our own worst enemies. Different groups or ministries arguing with one another over small things. And some of these arguments are even about things that have no bearing on the doctrine at all. This should not be so.
This section of scripture shows us that despite our differences, when we hold fast to Jesus Christ we are all one body. We have been called to one truth, one gospel and one body in Jesus Christ.
The truth is that when Christ returns He will be looking for His bride: the one true church. He will be looking for what we know of as the body of Christ here, of which we are all parts and are being built into the true church.
When Christ returns there will be no distinction amongst His people. We will not be looked at as Methodists, Pentecostals, Adventists, Salvation Army, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Protestant or any other configuration of the modern churches.
What the Lord will be looking for and taking with Him are His people. People who have learned the truth and can distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. He will be seeking those who sought Him out to learn the truth.
Your pastor, minister or priest cannot save you. Only Jesus saves. Nor will your pastor, minister or priest stand as advocate for you on the Day of Judgment. You will stand as an individual before the throne of God to give account of your life. What will you say?
There is only one body and our responsibility is to seek the way of the truth, so that we can be part of the one true body of Christ.
Now as I alluded to, there are today many divisions of the church. Many people in these churches will find salvation, even where the level of teaching and understanding of the truth in those churches may be lacking.
We must also understand that within the churches individuals also have different roles, purposes and ministries. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is an elder, and so on. And in the analogy Paul gives here we see that this is both right and a good thing.
He likens the body of Christ to a human body, showing that as in the human body there are many organs and parts, so too in the Christian body there are many ministries and gifts.
And like the human body where all the parts work together in harmony for the body to keep it healthy and growing well, so too the many parts of the Christian body work together to keep it healthy and to promote growth, both of the church and the individuals.
The various ministries in the church are not done by just one person. That is why it is a body composed of many members.
You cannot expect your church minister, pastor or priest to be the font of all knowledge, wisdom, sacrifice and so on. They are just one person in the church. The church needs to have all of the other ministries to operate effectively. They need teachers, evangelists, prophets, healers, helpers, administrators, musicians and apostles and so on, so that the church can be effective and strong.
When the church is working towards finding the truth, being led by the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then the Lord will ensure all the necessary ministries are in place to grow and protect the church.
All Are Required
Now the other point Paul makes here is that ALL of the parts of the church are necessary and they ALL need to be working in perfect harmony to promote maturity. A church where everyone is trying to be a prophet will not work. It will be out of balance because if all are prophets, who will teach? Who will pastor and oversee the flock of the Lord?
And if you think you don't do much or don't belong in the church because you are only sitting and warming a seat at Sunday services, then you must recognise also that this is also an important part of the church. You are there to learn, but also if you were not there, to whom would the preacher be preaching? Who would hear the word if there were no one sitting listening to the service?
When the church and the members of it are all working together in harmony with each other, along with the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, then we will see the true body of Christ as it should be. Then we will truly be united in Christ, one body working together in harmony with God and ready to enter the kingdom He has prepared for His people since before the foundation of the world.
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