|1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Body Language: Whose Job is this Anyway?
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
1. The point of this text is quite clear: one body, many parts. Easy point to understand, difficult to implement. It is difficult to treat each other with equality, so that each one has an equal concern for others. God's goal is that there be no division in the body and that each part shows equal concern for each other.
2. God created the unity of the body. In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body and we all (Jew/Gentile; slave/free) drink from the same Spirit (or, we have all been filled with the same Spirit). The unity of the body is rooted, as Paul pointed out earlier in the letter, in the redemptive work of Christ: he died for us and we were baptized into his name. Now, the function of the body is also united by the one Spirit who works through us in his various "gifts" or "manifestations." Baptism points us to the oneness we share in Christ.
3. The Corinthians had placed value in one gift over another, and they sought one gift more than another. No doubt pride and jealousy entered their attitudes toward each other. Thus, the unity of Christ's body was destroyed by their attitudes toward the gifts God had given them.
4. The gifts are intended to reflect the unity of the church through their common source (God), common faith (Christ) and common power (Spirit). The same God works in all these gifts on the basis of the same cross by the agency of the same power (Spirit). There is diversity of gifts but unity of divine activity. This unites the body.
5. The diversity of the body reflects divine intent. God designed it this way. In fact, God himself has distributed gifts in the church according to his good pleasure. As verse 18 says, God arranged the parts just as he desired. God intends diversity, and consequently jealousy and envy are of Satan rather than God. God's wisdom provides the diversity and Satanic envy wants equal distribution.
6. However, God does not intend for diversity to create "divison" within the body or create a situation one the "weaker" members are neglected or dishonored. The "presentable parts" need no "special treatment," but the "weaker" members need "special honor". American culture does not teach us this, but God's own action does because Jesus gave "special honor" to the weaker members of society.
7. Our interdependency should be so complete, that we suffer together and we rejoice together. When one part of the body is honored, we are all glad. When another part of the body suffers, we all suffer. We feel each other's pain, and we feel each other's joy--just like our own bodies.
1. In what ways does Paul stress the unity of the believers in verses 12-13? [baptism, indwelling of the Spirit, breaks down all ethnic/social/economic barriers]
2. Given this emphasis on unity in the context of spiritual gifts, why do you think is the problem in Corinth? What evidence is there in the text for these problems? [spiritual pride over gifts]
3. How do these same problems evidence themselves in the present church? How might they arise in the Cordova church?
4. How does Paul picture the diversity of the body? What do you think is the most significant point in this picture?
5. What is God's role in creating and maintaining this diversity?
6. How are the parts of the body interdependent upon each other? How is this illustrated in the text?
7. What is God's goal for his body according to vv. 21-26? How might have divisions manifested themselves in the Corinthian church? How might divisions manifest themselves in the Cordova church?
8. In the light of this text, how do we show honor to the "weaker" parts while showing no special honor to the "presentable parts"? What does this mean for the Cordova church? Does it create a problem for weaker members to receive "special honor" in the body? Isn't that the reverse of our culture?
9. How can Cordova reflect God's goal for the body? What practical steps can we take to promote this goal in the Cordova church?
10. What one thing can you do this week to actualize the intention of this text?