Paul addresses the recipient of spiritual gifts. Notice that I say recipient, not recipients:
“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. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13).
It seems that Paul is emphasizing the word “one” to describe your church, doesn’t it?
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (1 Cor 12:14-20).
When you walk into church and look around, do you see many unconnected parts, or do you see one body? This is what Paul sees:
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, an on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:21-26).
So how has God so composed the one body of Christ during the restrictive government invasion into our churches during the pandemic of 2020? Paul would say, I believe, that despite outside interference, “There may be no division in the body.” And he would likely add, “All members of the body should have the same care for one another. We suffer together and we will once again rejoice together.”
I did not see this coming when I sat down to write this blog, but this progression of Paul’s thought applies perfectly to what so many churches are grappling with – enforcing rules of the State that have divided them right down the middle – especially the wearing of masks. How would Paul identify the weaker and stronger parts of the body in this unprecedented regard?
The weaker might be those who legitimately believe they are more vulnerable to the virus. The stronger might be identified as those who are not vulnerable to the virus or do not believe that masks block the virus or are physically unable to wear masks. What we have seen is the weak cowering fear of the strong and the strong who threaten to leave the church because of the unmasked and unmasked people being shamed into leaving the church – a perfect storm.
To this, Paul warns: “…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together…”
The issue must be brought from confrontation to accommodation as one body.
What is missing?
Hurry back for Part 3.