1 Corinthians 12:12-26
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ … the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor.”
In this passage, Paul is using the human body as a metaphor for the church. When I read the passage, it struck me in a very physical, biological way.
If we extrapolate to our own bodies, I’m sure everyone can come up with an example of a “weak” or “less honorable” part. We can easily identify with an illness or an injury that led to a state of misery or an attitude or situation that made us unhappy. Just as I do my best to take care of myself, I typically fall short of my expectations. So our church and the wider church can also come up short of expectation. The church is, after all, a body with many parts.
What does the church gain from the weak and less honorable parts? The gifts of service, humility, acceptance and forgiveness; a reminder that we can’t easily remove from the church body a person, problem, or idea that we find disagreeable or challenging. If we do, the body will have to compensate somehow.
To extend the metaphor, this doesn’t give the church a free pass on all behaviors, ideologies and wrong-doing. Prayerful, thoughtful medicine and procedures are sometimes required for overall health and longevity.
Thinking of the church in this visceral sense was an interesting exercise and made me find a more personal empathy toward our congregation and the wider church. Just as I need to work on being forgiving of my body and personal intentions, I need to be forgiving of the church. It is an organic chimera of individuals that all have a place in the body, each contributing to the whole.