Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
What is the average person’s image of the church? Too often our look at the church is what’s in it for me. Too many times there is an emphasis on being served, rather than serving. Remember what Jesus said about servanthood in Matt. 20:25-28. He came to serve rather than to be served. That should be our philosophy of life. This should be our emphasis whenever we gather together with other believers. What needs do they have that I can seek to meet? Closely related to what the Lord Jesus commanded concerning servanthood is what the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 12 about our placement in the Body of Christ and how we should be involved as members of the Body.
In my recent preaching series on “Confronting Complacency,” I addressed the question, “Are You Sitting or Serving?” In answering this question, we focused on I Corinthians 12 and how to become an active member of the church. There are four problems which need to be confronted and eliminated to be an active member.
The problem of limited capability: there is no member that has not been equipped for service (I Cor. 12:7-14, 28-31). “I can’t do it.”
You may use the excuse for not ministering, “I can’t do it,” but it doesn’t hold water. It is not true, considering how God has equipped each believer for service. You as a believer are equipped with a spiritual gift (I Cor. 12:7-11, 28-31). You are equipped by the Holy Spirit—He has given you a gift (I Cor. 12:7-11) and has placed you in the Body of Christ (12:12-14). You can be an active member of the Body because He equips you and empowers you.
The problem of unwise comparison: there is no member that is less or more important than another (I Cor. 12:15-26). “They don’t need me.” “I don’t need you.”
There are two attitudes which Paul confronts in this chapter regarding a believer’s place in the Body of Christ. They are attitudes which hinder one’s involvement in the Body. And they are built on unwise comparisons. There is the attitude of inferiority—“they don’t need me” (I Cor. 12:15-20). But you shouldn’t say this because each member is equally important (12:17) and God has placed you where He wants you (12:18-20). On the other extreme, there is the attitude of superiority—“I don’t need you” (12:21-26). Even the weaker and less important members are important (12:22-24), and there must be unity and caring in the Body (12:25-26). These truths argue against a superior attitude. Removing these wrong attitudes is necessary to be an active member.
The problem of inaccurate conclusion: there is no member that is not needed (12:21-24). “I am not needed.”
You cannot say that you have no need of other believers because even the weaker and less honorable members are necessary. Paul illustrates this again from the human body. He shows the importance of three kinds of members of the Body. The weaker members are necessary, likely referring to members such as the internal organs which require the protection of the rest of the body (12:22). The less honorable members are vital, likely referring to the parts of the body which are not attractive (torso, thighs, stomach) and need to be clothed (12:23a). The unpresentable members are essential (12:23b-24), likely referring to the private parts (not shameful in themselves, but rather the display of them—showing concern by covering them). Since each member of the Body is needed, each should be active.
The problem of mutual consideration: there is no member that should be rejected or neglected (12:25-26). “I don’t care.”
The purpose for God blending together the Body and giving more abundant honor to the part lacking is in order that there may not be a schism in the Body. God wants no division, but unity. If some members feel superior, it can make others feel inferior and unimportant. This destroys unity and causes one to isolate from other members and have a lack of caring for other members. Functioning properly in the Body requires mutual consideration for one another. There must be the same care for one another (12:25) and a sympathizing sharing with one another (12:26). Each member should be considered important to the Body.
It is the case of many, if not most, churches that the great majority of the work and ministry in the church is being done by the small minority of believers. The 80/20 principle is so often mentioned: 20% in the church are doing 80% of the work. Are you part of the 80 or the 20? Are you inactive or active? Are you sitting or serving?
Because of His Grace—Pastor Charlie