I think I was scarred in middle school. I remember a number of youth group lessons on the verses in the Bible comparing us to members of the body. Something about the way it was handled must have scarred me, because I have avoided those verses ever since. I think this blog may be the first time I have seriously meditated on this topic in at least 20 years.
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him….
4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
As an ENTP, I notice patterns. It’s why I didn’t blog on anything related to any one speaker at Willow Creek, but instead commented on threads I spotted through more than one session. So when I notice the body referred to twice in different references within a couple of verses of each other, I wonder what Paul was shooting for. First, give your own bodies to God as a living sacrifice. Second, the many parts of our bodies resemble the many parts of Christ’s body.
I think the point Paul is making is that in order for a collective to function well, each individual must sacrifice its individuality. As he says in I Corinthians 12, the eye can’t think of itself as greater than the ear because both are needed. And the eye can’t be the entire body, because it would have very limited use as a single function. So the eye must surrender its pride, ambition and individuality in order to make the greater body even greater.
Leaders, remember that our gift is no greater than any other. I don’t think God scattered the gifts randomly, but neither did he bestow certain gifts on those he favored. However, when he chooses someone to be an eye, he expects them to see. There are certain commands given here dependent on the gift. Prophets should speak out, servers should serve well, teachers should teach. You get the point. So leaders should take the responsibility seriously.
Here’s the point. If you’re given the gift, you have a responsibility to be the leader in the body. It’s not special favor. I’m not sure God handed out fewer leadership parts than other parts of the body (e.g. ten fingers, but only one head). And it’s not about “lording it over” people. Rather, it’s about belonging to each other and bringing what we have to share with each other.
Final point. Look at the adverbs: serve well, teach well, show kindness gladly, speak out with faith. So lead with excellence and diligence. Take the responsibility seriously and work to improve your abilities.
Leaders, make your sacrifice. Give yourselves to God and give yourselves to the rest of the body. Lead well.
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