1 Corinthains 12 - I Need You
I Need You
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
I. Each Member Is Indispensable
II. Each Member Is Interdependent
III. Each Member Is Interconnected
One of my favorite comics (or the funnies as we used to called them), is the Peanuts strip. In one of those cartoons, Lucy demands that Linus change the channel on the TV and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t.
“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.
“These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re noth-ing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”
“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus.
Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?” (Bruce Shelley, What Is the Church, p. 38).
While I don’t condone Lucy’s methods, however effective they might prove to be, she does give us a powerful illustration of how the Church, the Body of Christ, is designed to work together. Remember what she said, “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” It is when we come together that we become an effective instrument for not only tearing down the strongholds of Satan, but also for communicating the love of the Savior.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the Church to the human body. Through this analogy, he communicates the important truth of our need to accept our differences as individual members of the Body of Christ and to recognize these differences as vital to the proper functioning of the whole. Our differences are not to be accentuated, resulting in division. Rather, they are for the purpose of meeting the various needs that exist within the Church—both locally and globally. There are many parts because there are many needs. And without the various parts, some needs would be neglected.
I’m going to try to help us understand Paul’s teaching in this section by summarizing all that he says in just three words—so if you fail to hear anything else that is said, don’t miss these three words. The point that Paul is trying to make can be summed up in this motto: I need you!
Let me repeat it so there’s no mistaking it: I need you!
Now say it with me: I need you!
I’m not going to spend a lot of time tearing this passage into little pieces because I want to focus our attention this morning on the application of these words to our lives. I’m simply going to call your attention to three principles of body life within the Church that Paul uses to drive home his point of our need for one another. Please turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
Read: 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27
Each Member Is Indispensable
The first principle that Paul wants us to understand about our need for one another is that each member is indispensable. While each member of the Body of Christ is not the same, each of us is essential to the whole.
Paul uses the analogy of the human body which is made up of many different parts to show us how the variety of parts - eyes, hands, ears, nose, are essential to the whole-ness of the body. Each part must be present in order for the body to be complete. If the human body was made up of only one part, then it would cease to be a body—by definition, a body is made up of many parts.
But for the sake of argument, if it were possible for a body to be made up on only one part, then it would be an extremely limited body—it would miss out on all the functionality and potential of all the other parts. We are given eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, and noses to smell. The various parts of our human bodies contribute to the whole in unique and significant ways that no other part can do.
So it is with the Body of Christ, the Church. God has made us all different and unique. He gifts each of us in different and peculiar ways like no one else. We are each special and necessary. And we are to carry out the function for which we were created and gifted by God, whether it is for seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or whatever. “Each part…must be willing to perform its own function.
From an experience of her childhood, Mrs. Floyd Crook recalls how this great truth was impressed upon her with special meaning. She writes,
“I came home from school one day crying because I had been given only a small part in the children’s program, while my playmate got the leading role. After drying my tears, my mother took off her watch and put it in my hand. ‘What do you see?’ she asked. ‘A gold case, a face, and two hands,’ I replied. Opening the back, she repeated the question. I told her I saw many tiny wheels. ‘This watch would be useless,’ she said, ‘without every part—even the ones you can hardly see.’”
Not all of us will play the leading role. Some of us have to be the supporting actors and actresses. But we all have a purpose and a place in the Church. Each of us is important and essential. In order for the Church to function properly, it must have a variety of parts that all work together as a whole. Remember the phrase: I need you!
I. Each Member Is Indispensable
Each Member Is Interdependent
The second principle in this passage that supports the author’s thesis concerning our need for one another is that each member is interdependent. Every part of the Body of Christ relies on the proper functioning of every other part.
Without the cooperative and corporate participation of the various parts of our human bodies, many (if not all) vital tasks would be impossible. Take, for example, the simple act of speaking, like I’m doing right now. If any of the parts of my body that are necessary for speech were to decide that they didn’t want to participate in this act, it would be impossible for me to talk at this very…moment. Speech is possible only when my brain, nerves, tongue, jaws, lips, larynx, lungs, diaphragm, heart, veins, arteries, capillaries and parts unknown to me all work together for that specific purpose. What appears on the surface to be the work of only one part of the body is actually a very complex and precise cooperative act of many members of the body.
The same is true of the Church. Each member of the Body of Christ is interdependent. Even the most menial functioning of that Body requires a coordinated effort between the various members. Have you ever noticed that all the pictures of a church are group pictures? The more mature we become in Christ, the more we realize that throughout our entire life we will continue to need each other.
In a mountain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to the townspeople. Finally, he decided to build them a church building.
No one saw the complete plans for the building until it was finished. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty and completeness. Then someone asked, “But where are the lamps? How will it be lighted?”
The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls. Then he gave each family a lamp that they were to bring with them each time they came to worship.
“Each time you are here the area where you are seated will be lighted,” the nobleman said. “Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark” (Church Bulletin Bits).
Let me use another analogy, that of flying a kite. As we consider this activity, we may ask, “Who flew the kite?”
“I did,” comes a reply from the wind!
“I did,” shouts the paper!
“I did,” exclaims the tail!
“I did,” says the string!
“I did,” boasts the boy!
But in reality, they ALL flew the kite! If the wind had lulled, if the paper had torn, if the tail had gotten caught in a tree, if the string had broken, or the boy had fallen, then the kite would have come down!
You see EACH HAD A PART TO PLAY!
God has placed each one of us here in a strategic role! You are an important part of the successfulness and effectiveness of this church. Everyone else is depending on you to be here and to carry out your function. And when we fail to be here and/or carry out our function in this body, the whole church suffers. So use your gifts to the glory of God and leave the results to him. Remember the phrase: I need you!
I. Each Member Is Indispensable
II. Each Member Is Interdependent
Each Member Is Interconnected
The final principle that Paul is trying to convey to us about our individual needfulness is that each member is interconnected. That is, whatever affects one member of the Body of Christ is felt by all of the members.
Let me bring this principle home to you by giving you another example from our human bodies. Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to our toes, especially our little pinkie toes (except, perhaps, when we’re playing with our children and it comes to that part in the game where it’s time to say, “And this little piggy went, ‘Wee, wee, wee,’ all the way home”). Pinkie toes—it’s just one of those things we don’t normally spend hours reflecting upon. Some of us may not even be sure that we have one. (You can check it out after the service—I’m sure those sitting near you will appreciate your patience!)
But suppose you’re at home, running around barefoot, and you carelessly happen to bump that pinkie toe into the leg of a chair. Let me assure you, it will become immediately evident that your pinkie toe does, in fact, exist. Every part of your body will join in its pain. The leg and foot that is not injured will begin to jump up and down. Your back will bend over in order to enable your arm and hand to ex-tend a soothing massage. All the members necessary for speech will join in and offer groans that words cannot express. No part of your body will go untouched by the injury to your pinkie toe. All will be affected. All will come to its aid.
That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work in the Body of Christ. That’s what Paul is saying in v. 26: If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. We are all related. There are ties between each of us that make us inseparable. Paul describes those ties in v. 13, For we were all baptized by one Spirit, into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. We are interconnected.
When something happens to one member of our church body, whether it is good or bad, all of the other members of the body are to respond accordingly. In practical terms, this means that I cannot be blind to what is happening in your life and you cannot be blind to what is happening in mine. If each of us is going to remain a vital part of this local body, then we must do our part in seeing that we are in touch with all of the other members of this body. We have to know if they are hurting, and join them in their suffering. We have to know if they are rejoicing, and join them in their happiness.
One of the diseases affecting the Body of Christ today is what could be called spiritual leprosy. Do you know what physical leprosy is? You are probably more apt to recognize it by the effects and symptoms associated with the disease rather than its actual root nature. Lepers are known for their swollen hands and feet and the festering sores on their bodies. But that is not leprosy in it most basic form. A simple description of leprosy found in Webster’s states that it is “a germ disease causing gradual loss of feeling.”
What happens to those infected by the bacteria that causes leprosy is that they become numb to the conditions surrounding them. They can’t sense what is happening around them. One who has leprosy could cut himself/herself and never experience the sensation of pain. As a result, the wound receives no attention, and infection sets in. If not treated in time, the infection could progress to gangrene and eventually destroy the whole body.
This is what happens when the members of the Body of Christ become infected by spiritual leprosy. We become unable to sense what is occurring in the lives of the other members of the body. One member may get injured. If that injury is not attended to, it will become progressively worse and worse. In time, it will destroy the entire body. We must be on guard so that we do not become infected with this fatal disease.
We are interconnected to one another. We must share in the experiences of one another. Get to know the various parts. Don’t just spend all of your time with certain parts—make yourself know to others. You take the first step; don’t wait until they come to you. And keep your eyes focused outward to the needs of others. Join others in their grief and joy. Remember the phrase: I need you!
Let me close by telling a story. Some of us are probably familiar with a guy named Aesop. He is famous for his many fables that teach important moral lessons. I’m going to tell you one called the Fable of the Belly.
“One day it occurred to the members of the body that they were doing all the work while the belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting (presumably without inviting the belly) and after a long discussion decided to go on strike until the belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two the hands refused to take the food, the mouth refused to receive it and the teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two, the members began to find that they themselves were not in very active condition. The hands could hardly move, the mouth was all parched and dry, while the legs were unable to support the rest of the body. So they found that even the belly in its dull, quiet way was doing necessary work for the body and that all must work together or the body will go to pieces.”
Our human bodies work together in order that we can live full lives in this world. As the Body of Christ, we must also work together. Each member of this body is indispensable, interdependent and interconnected. It is only as we see ourselves as members of one body and strive to act as one body that we will experience health and growth. Remember the phrase: I need you!
We’ve said it several times already this morning, but I would like to challenge you to say it to at least 4 people, who are not in your family, before you leave here today. And when you say it to them, ask them how you can share in their hurting or their rejoicing. I need you, I am so glad that you are here, you are such an encouragement to me. I really do miss you when your not here, is there something I can do to encourage or help you. Also, take a look around and you will notice that someone is missing, there is a dark spot where their lamp should be. So in addition to the 4 your going to speak to before you leave, add 2 more to contact, that are not here today and let them know that you need them, that we need them. Our body can not function properly when some of it’s parts and pieces are missing or not functioning. Lets pull together so that we can fly like the kite, or as the prophet Isaiah says “We will soar on wings like Eagles;” and not set around like Turkeys.
Today is also a time to consider your relationship with Jesus. Have you made that commitment to make Him the Lord of you life, and Savior of your soul? If you are ready to make that commitment today and be united with Him in baptism, we are ready to help you do that, so please come now as we stand and sing.