In 1 Corinthians 12, we are given one of the most beautiful and fitting descriptions of our relationship with Jesus and each other as children of God. Paul skillfully paints a detailed picture of a human body with all the various body parts – the more prominent ones, the unseen ones, the more “honourable” ones, and the ones we take special care to protect and cover. He then compares it to us being many different parts in Christ’s Body, all connected to our Head, which is Christ.
This analogy gives us several things to think about:
- What we put into our body influences our health
We all agree that to be healthy, we need to be wise about how we care for our bodies – stress and unhealthy choices can increase our risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. These choices also greatly diminish our energy and effectiveness in whatever tasks we endeavour to complete. In the same way, Jesus lists some unhealthy spiritual choices we can make that lead to illness and ineffectiveness in the Body of Christ: “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
- Self-harm does not make sense
Thoughts of wanting to harm one’s own body are not natural or healthy and do not make any sense. We find a plethora of examples in the New Testament of destructive behaviours within Christ’s Body, sometimes called the “negative one-anothers”: judge one another; bite, devour, consume one another; envy one another; lie to one another; grumble among one another, etc. Sounds like self-harm, doesn’t it? And it just does not make sense spiritually either.
- We need all our body parts to function well
No one in their right mind would ask for less organs or body parts. But somehow, we can fall into this trap spiritually. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. We are a team, and we are designed to function as such. Therefore, our preferences, rules, denomination and culture cannot get in the way of Christ’s Body. We were born into the same One Body, and so we are to be of one mind, one Spirit, and one goal, and we need each one of us to accomplish God’s plan in this world.
- We care for injured body parts
Sometimes we deal with an injury, such as a broken arm or a sprained ankle. Our natural reaction is to protect and “baby” whatever is hurt to speed the healing process. In a spiritual sense, we learn in 1 Corinthians that when one part of Christ’s Body suffers, the whole body suffers with it. There are helpful actions we can take – the “positive one-anothers”, if you will: love one another; forgive one another; comfort and encourage one another; serve one another; give preference to one another; pray for one another; confess our sins one to another; exhort one another, etc. All these actions will heal and strengthen the Body to bring it back to its full effectiveness again.
- The body cannot function without the Head
Just as our physical bodies die without commands and impulses from our head, so the Body of Christ will die if the commands of the Head are blocked or ignored. This may seem obvious, but it points out the seriousness of following Jesus’ commandments – all of them. It requires prayer and study of the Scripture, humility and utmost obedience. Jesus is the Life – without Him, we are dead.
Let’s devote as much love and care to the Body of Christ as we do to our own bodies. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35). Then we can be an effective, powerful light in this world to the glory of God. “We will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:15-16)