1 Corinthians 12:20-27
Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.
1 Corinthians 12:20-27
Paul has been talking about the gifts of the Spirit and the fact that each gift is given to fulfill a role in the Church. He goes on to speak of the Church as the body of Christ – for Christ no longer has a physical body and needs His followers to undertake the physical ministry of the Kingdom of God – to teach, to care, to tell the Good News. Paul uses the image of a body to describe perfectly the variety and essential nature of each person who makes up the Church. But not only does the picture of a body bdescribe variety – it also describes the unity that is vital for the body to function effectively.
As such the people who make up the body of Christ:
- Need each other to undertake their role and complement one another in the work the Church is called to do
- Must respect one another – all roles are necessary to carry out God’s calling as the Church to spread the Gospel, whatever that role may be. No one part of the body is any more important than another. This is God’s design for the Church. This is how He wants it ton be. Any part that considers themselves more important than any other, and works to develop their own role in the Church whilst disrespecting the roles of others, is like a cancer within a physical body and has the same effect, causing sickness and division.
- Must sympathise with one another – when one part of the body is struck down for any reason, others are affected, whether they are an individual member of the local church or a persecuted body of believers on the other side of the world. When a person suffers from a thrombosis, their whole body is incapacitated. Little consideration is given to the veins in our bodies, until they start to go wrong. So there are parts of the body of Christ which receive little attention. But their role is as essential to the smooth working of the body as the veins in a physical body are essential to health and life.
Seen from the viewpoint of God, all parts of the body are essential. None is greater than any other. No one should be proud or ashamed of the role they hold in the Church. Whatever role anyone holds is necessary and valued, and is effective when that person carries out that role to the best of their ability for the good of all and the glory of God.
How do you react when you stub a toe, slam a finger in a car door, get a speck of dust in your eye? What happens to any action you were taking at that moment? How does this differ from if you should have a high fever or a heart attack? Which is the greater debilitating event in that moment?
• Trevor Hudson says that each person has a special song to sing, a special message to give, a special act of love to extend that only they possess. What does this mean to you personally? How are you singing your song, giving your message, reaching out in love at this time?
• Have you been baptized and, if so, do you remember the event? Briefly share with the group if you do. Do you feel you belong to the Body of Christ as a valued member as a result? Why/why not?
• Spend some time discussing your gifts. Whether you know what your principal gift is or not, ask the group to see if they have identified a gift of the Spirit within you. How do you feel about the gift/s God has given you that the group identifies?
• Where do you/can you use your gift within the Church? What is its purpose? How does it make you feel when you know you are using this gift for the glory of God and the benefit of the body of Christ?
• Ask the group what happens when you do not use the gift that has been identified in the greater picture of Church life. How do their answers make you feel?
• How does the gift you have been given promote unity within the body?
• How do you care for one another? Who needs care in your group at the moment? How does their willingness to accept such care affect your willingness to give it?
• How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, especially in regard to the identification and utilisation of personal gifts of the Spirit; and in regard to other needs of the group.
This week, be intentional about using your personal gift within the Church for God’s glory and the benefit of the body of Christ. Ask God to show you how, then report back next week what you did, how you felt, and what happened as a result.
Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Corinthians. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville,