1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT - All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
Scripture presents the Church as Christ’s body, made up of various parts just like our human bodies. Different body parts have different locations, purposes, appearances, etc. Paul continued the illustration even referring to important parts that require more modesty than others - some will be more “on display” while others are literally “behind the scenes”. Yet all have value. Paul specifically taught this to Corinth because their local body of believers was spiritually sick with infections of desecration (of Communion), division (among themselves), debauchery (sexual sin and drunkenness), defiance (of Paul’s apostolic authority), and doctrinal error. The Corinthian Church was a mess. It was a large church, and it operated the gifts of the Spirit as much as any other assembly, but it was exceedingly unhealthy. Like a doctor trying to heal a sick patient, the apostle is inspired of God to write “prescriptions” for the health and recovery of this body. The goal was for a church rooted in pure faith, true hope, and genuine love for one another.
By using the illustration of the body, Paul demonstrated how interconnected the Corinthian Christians really were - even though they had cliques and factions and other ungodly displays of division among themselves. Such divisions prompted Paul to call them “babies” who could not handle “solid food”, while informing them that some physical sicknesses and deaths in their church were due the unloving, divisive manner in which they were desecrating the Lord’s Supper! Despite all their flaws, Paul reminded them that they were Christ’s body - together. Togetherness and unity are essential for a healthy body. Unity is not 100% agreement or liking everything that everyone else does. To embrace unity in the body is to choose to love. Among the most troubling of physical illnesses, autoimmune diseases are unpleasant, often crippling, sometimes deadly. Crudely-speaking, these are diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks the body itself in some way. The Corinthian church was a local body that was crippled by a spiritual autoimmune disorder in that the body would not stop attacking itself. There is little need for Satan to attack a church body that is always attacking itself - tearing down one another rather than building up. The famous “love chapter” follows Paul’s reminder of their identity as Christ’s body. It’s not a romantic love for wedding recitations, it’s the choice to love like Christ - self-sacrificially for the benefit of others. The mutilation of the body of Christ (as indicated in 1 & 2 Corinthians) is one of the most serious problems in both the New Testament and in modern times. We should do everything in our power to attempt to promote unity and love while preventing and avoiding such “body mutilation”.
Nearly all of us have parts of our physical bodies that we wish were different in some way. Some people go so far as to be embarrassed by or even “hate” some of their physical features, yet only those with serious psychological problems would ever amputate or mutilate those parts of their bodies. It does occur in rare instances, but most people are rational enough to understand that to mutilate one part of the body harms the whole self. Considering this, love for one another in the body of Christ is, in part, a self-preserving act - even though it is an expression of love for Christ. How? If we really believe we together are Christ’s body, we should be deathly afraid to mutilate the church in any way since we would be, in essence, attacking our Lord. Unfortunately, when Christians equate love with a feeling rather than behavior toward one another, the body suffers. Likewise, most American Christians view church discipline as unloving; however, New Testament church discipline is no more mutilating the body than maintaining a healthy eating and workout regimen! Lifting weights may hurt in the short term, but the goal and result is greater health and strength long-term! So it is with Christ’s body, of which included the Corinthians whom Paul was severely disciplining for their lack of love and unity.
Ironically, our body parts that we dislike most are often the ones to which we give the most attention. We try to present these displeasing body parts in ways that flatter, improve, or conceal. What might we do to improve the appearance and overall well-being of the parts of Christ’s body that displease you most? Who in Christ’s body would benefit more from your admiration than your amputation? Who in Christ’s body needs a makeover more than your mutilation? Who in Christ’s body needs your intercession more than your indignation? Who in Christ’s body needs your connectivity more than your condemnation?
Romans 12:3-5 NIV - For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.