1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
The above is from the King James. The World English Bible (WEB) renders it a bit differently.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Why quote both versions? To begin with, I understand lots of people don’t much like the KJV. I’m partial to it because I’ve been reading it for so long. Even so, I like to get a different perspective now and then. Too often I find passages I’ve either missed for years or lacked a fuller understanding. The above verse is a good example.
The word “particular” can mean many things in English. Individual is one synonym. Distinct is another. When dealing with the concept of the Body of Christ, it seems quite relevant to take in the parts as well as the whole. You and I are the parts. Christ Jesus, as the head, is also a part. This passage in Corinthians goes to great lengths to emphasize each of us is not just “a” part but an important part of the whole. Surely we would be lost without the head, Christ, but that doesn’t mean your part is not important. Consider another reference to members.
James 3:5 So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest! (WEB)
In one verse, James gets to the heart of how one little member can affect much. What is the tongue? Apart from the taste function, is it not mere skin and muscle? Yet how much trouble can it cause? How much havoc can it wreak?
James 3:1 Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment.
2 For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.
3 Indeed, we put bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, and we guide their whole body.
4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so big and are driven by fierce winds, are yet guided by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires.
5 So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest!
6 And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehenna.
7 For every kind of animal, bird, creeping thing, and thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind.
8 But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God.
10 Out of the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
Taking verse one into account, one may ascertain James is speaking directly to teachers. If this is so, does the mean those who are not teachers are excluded? Without a doubt James indicates teachers will receive a “heavier judgment”. The qualifying word “heavier” (rendered more severe and greater in other versions) in no way suggests those who are NOT teachers will not receive judgment. Indeed, we know from other scriptures we will all give an account. So, no, even those who do not teach can take these words lightly.
That said, I am not pointing this passage out to expound on the tongue, as marvelous and terrifying as it can be. While physiologically there isn’t much to it, few can argue about the importance of having one. The same can be said about any part of our physical bodies. Why, then should any member of the body of Christ be considered unimportant or even expendable? (God help us!)
This passage in 1 Corinthians 12 goes to great lengths to make this point.
1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.
13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot would say, “Because I’m not the hand, I’m not part of the body,” it is not therefore not part of the body.
16 If the ear would say, “Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body,” it’s not therefore not part of the body.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be?
18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired.
19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now they are many members, but one body.
21 The eye can’t tell the hand, “I have no need for you,” or again the head to the feet, “I have no need for you.”
22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
23 Those parts of the body which we think to be less honorable, on those we bestow more abundant honor; and our unpresentable parts have more abundant propriety;
24 whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God composed the body together, giving more abundant honor to the inferior part,
25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
26 When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. Or when one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Consider the above in light of Ephesians 1:4
Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love;
We are not simply members of the body of Christ but we were chosen before the foundation of the world to be part of the body! How incredible is that?! It doesn’t matter whether you are a sweeper in some obscure factory or a world leader – GOD ALMIGHTY chose you and put you where you are because only you could live your life. Recently, something Lance Wallnau said made this crystal clear to me.
Lance was talking about an interview he did with Georgia State Senator Mike Crotts who said he died, met Jesus and came back at the command of his wife Phyllis. As I heard the story, Mike says Jesus told him he still had work to do in government as a politician.
Now when I first heard this, one of my first thoughts was, “Senator? I never heard of this guy before. Must be he wasn’t much of one.” Of course I was thinking of a U.S. Senator as I’d expect one who was brought back from the dead to be more prominent. At this point, most of what I really know about the man is stated above. I cannot point to his record as a politician. His world and mine never intersected before Lance Wallnau brought him up. In fact, I do not believe we go directly to heaven when we die. I won’t go into all the scriptures I base my understanding on but they are extensive and far more plainly stated than those suggesting otherwise. So what gives?
First, allow me to give Senator Crotts’ testimony the benefit of the doubt. While scripture does indicate those who are “asleep” in Christ will rise upon his return, nothing in scripture says Senator Crotts couldn’t have seen Jesus when he died. There are others who’ve made similar, credible claims. They all have one thing in common, they lived to tell about their experiences. So even if my understanding is accurate, that does not preclude the possibilities of someone getting a peek at heaven.
So let’s say Crotts did die, he saw Jesus, and was sent back to live out his life as a politician. Okay, fine. Does that make his life any more or less important that yours or mine? Absolutely not! Whatever Senator Crotts did, it was stuff I’d never do. And he could never do what I’ve done in my life. Neither of us can do what you do. The bottom line here is, the events of the world does not, can not hinge on the actions of one person. In light of this…
Have you ever heard of the “butterfly effect”? Simply put, the theory states that the motions of a butterfly flapping its wings in, say, Japan puts into motion a series of events that have a significant impact on us here in America. At least that’s my take on the idea. While we may never know or understand all the nuances of this concept – there are a lot of butterflies out there – we can all nod to the idea that one tiny action we take now can reap some astounding (or horrifying) results.
If just one thing you do today can turn a ripple into a tidal wave, what about everything you do? Surely some actions will cause a greater affect than others, but which ones? On the negative side I can tell you from experience, I’ve seen more grief rain down on me for a single misspoken sentence or word even, than I ever bargained for. And, yes, I have seen some heartwarming results from a well-placed word also. If our lives tallied up to a sum total with the positives on one side and the negatives on the other, what would you want your balance to reflect?
As I indicated previously, these factors tend to be weighted so our lives are not just some game of sums. Every action you take produces fruit. That fruit can either be good fruit or bad fruit. In other words, you reap what you sow. How does all this relate to the body of Christ?
Imagine the impact the body of Christ would have if every member only yielded good fruit. Is this even possible?
Mark 10:27 Jesus, looking at them, said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.”
Now I cannot say whether this will ever happen. Nor can I say in will not ever happen. This is not for me or you to say. All I can do is sow actions that produce good fruit. I am only responsible for myself. Consequently, you are only responsible for yourself. You do your part and let God be God.
We are all part of the body of Christ, and members individually (or in particular). All of us were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before God in love. Why?
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
We were created in Christ to do good works. Where? Well, HERE – wherever “here” is for you. When? Whenever possible, in other words, all the time. What is the end goal? What does God have in mind for us? Well… eventually I’m expecting some sort of party in eternity, each of us still has work to do here on this earth. As members of the body of Christ who desire to serve our Lord Jesus and serve God, what should our goal be?
Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Notice the first word “until”. Oh-oh, yeah, I did that – posted just that one verse, even though it seems to be missing context. There is more to all this than what you see above. In fact, God has a whole structure in place to get us all to that point. That said, this is the goal – one fully developed “person” (my rendering) with Jesus Christ as the head and us members as the body.
Already I’ve gone long in this post. Between this post and the previous, I’ve shown where we are the body of Christ and members individually. This was God’s plan from the beginning. As members, we are responsible for our own actions (what we sow) and the fruit we produce. Yet there seems to be something missing. WE are missing something. Let me ask you… ARE we coming to a “unity of the faith of the knowledge of the Son of God”? HAVE we “grown up”? What is the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”?
If you are seeing what I am seeing, we not only are not there, rather, we seem to be drifting further and further apart. WHY? What I’m seeing is this is because we are taking our focus off Christ and turning onto each other.
2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul, myself, entreat you by the humility and gentleness of Christ; I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage toward you.
2 Yes, I beg you that I may not, when present, show courage with the confidence with which I intend to be bold against some, who consider us to be walking according to the flesh.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we don’t wage war according to the flesh;
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds,
5 throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;
6 and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience will be made full.
7 Do you look at things only as they appear in front of your face? If anyone trusts in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again with himself, that, even as he is Christ’s, so also we are Christ’s.
Consider this passage in light of our topic. In the broader context, Paul is specifically speaking of his ministry. Let’s face it, life was not always easy for the apostle Paul. It seems everywhere he went, trouble, i.e. tribulation, followed. He was constantly attacked, beaten, and thrown out of town. Here, he writes of those saying Paul was “walking in the flesh”. He didn’t deny it but he did immediately turn the focus to God.
2 Corinthians 10:3b …“we don’t wage war according to the flesh;
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds,
5 throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;”
This is the essence of our spiritual battle. While I contend our individual battles must first begin with our own minds, drawing closer to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Christ Jesus in our hearts, we cannot simply ignore those “imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God”. Sure we can limit our exposure to such things but we “must needs go out into the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10 d)
Our goal, however, should be to get those beams out of our own eyes before we try to take the speck out of the eye of our brethren. Let me ask you… what would the world look like if each of us brought “thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”? Personally, I think we would have no need to “police” our brothers and sisters in Christ because we would all be walking in the spirit, in love.
And THAT would evoke the vision of Ephesians 4:15-16
Ephesians 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ;
16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.
WE are the body of Christ – with our risen Lord and Savior Christ Jesus at the head, and those of us to confess Jesus as Lord as members individually. Together we make the whole, however the only true head is Christ. To this end, each of us should be “bringing every thought in captivity to the obedience of Christ”. To this end he gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors), and teachers to bring us all together.
While I can envision how rank and file believers like myself can join with those gifted in ministries such as above to attain the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, I find it difficult to reconcile that vision with what my own eyes see in today’s world – division, bickering, and so forth. Only God can accomplish this through His only-begotten Son Jesus the Christ. I don’t see God herding cats, thus WE must individually seek out and accept God’s Will in our lives. His Will is plainly stated in scriptures, particularly in the epistles to the church – the body of Christ. If we do those things, we shall surely see amazing things come to pass.