Cogs in a Machine
1 Corinthians 12:14, speaking of the body of the local church, says that the body is not one member but many. We may rightly have an understanding of a body as a unit but Paul says it is in fact a unity. For those who have studied the human body it is an amazing marvel of interconnected organs and automated biochemical process, from the molecular biology of the individual cells in all their variety to the living, breathing, moving, thinking people we rub shoulders with from day to day. While we marvel at the human body at times things do not always work as they should. In these circumstances the God given internal healing mechanisms come into play to try and restore balance, unfortunately sometimes these internal healing mechanisms can be overwhelmed and we need the help of a doctor. There are many lessons in this book of First Corinthians for various church ailments, prevention and cure; it is rich in instruction for the healing of the body of the local church. This book elevates the status of the local church it is not only to be considered as such but is in fact called the body of Christ, the body of Christ in that particular geographical location. With the local church possessing an elevated position it elevates the seriousness of church membership and our responsibilities and also elevates the solemn nature of divisions and disease within it. All was not rosy at Corinth. Even a cursory read through First Corinthians one would quickly discover that it was a church that was not without its problems, yet we might say it was still hobbling along. Chapter 12 speaks in vivid imagery to tell us that within the body that everyone is necessary for the effective functioning of the local church. While Jesus Christ is its head or brain we are its members. This particular chapter reminds us that while there is diversity there is no place for division (verse 25; there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another; equal care for every member). It also reminds us that there is no place for inferiority complexes within the body. Verse 16; if the ear should say because I am not an eye I am not of the body. If the whole body were an eye where would the hearing be? Those with less prominent roles, less high profile roles should never feel in themselves that their contribution is unnecessary or undervalued by God. There is no room for superiority complexes within the body. Verses 21 and the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”. Those in more prominent positions should never feel they do not need all the other members of the body. The reason behind this equality of value is simple, it is the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts (verse 11; but the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one *gifts individually as He wills (* gifts implied from the context). Many people have gifts, natural and spiritual but whatever their number or nature or greatness they all have their source in the one who created us and them. In cooperation with the Spirit our gifts need to be developed and honed but when we consider their source it quickly removes all calls to pride or equally to unworthiness. These are God given so why would we despise them; these are God given so why should we seek the glory. To despise them is to despise the one who gives them, to claim them as our own is to place ourselves in Gods place. We are all members of the body, cogs in the machinery of the local church; some cogs move quickly, others slowly, some are to the forefront, others are working away behind hidden from sight, all moving in their own circles (pun intended), yet all necessary, all different, all working with unity of purpose. First Corinthians 12 is a rich passage, many lessons could be drawn from it, but one of its overarching themes is that of unity in diversity. This is a challenging passage, a high call, and the one who writes is also one who is challenged by it. So wherever the Lord has called us to serve, and to what he has called us to do, may we strive, through the Spirit, to seek the unity and good of the local church, the body of Christ, and its mission over that of ourselves.