I used two versions of the following scripture during our discussion. I love the NIV but sometimes the Message paraphrase really brings some things out. Assuming that more people have an NIV and can look it up if they want I'll give you the Message version here... It's a little long but I hope you'll take a few minutes and keep reading. :)
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
With this in mind we did a little activity that was inspired from my days of teaching environmental education.
I took a ball of yarn and one person began by telling how God has used them to bless others... or how God had used someone else to bless them.
After sharing the person held onto the string and then passed it to someone else. In doing this we created a web. When looking at it you can see how it's all interconnected... some strings holding others up but each necessary to keeping the web strong.
Once everyone was holding the string I asked one person to start tugging and as each person felt it they too began to tug. It didn't take long before the entire web was vibrating... each person doing their part to keep the Body of Christ functioning well. One part affecting many others. And that's how it should be... everyone doing their part. The Body of Christ active and thriving.
I then had a few people drop their strings and as they did I said "That's how the Body of Christ really is today. It's on life support. A few people doing the work of many." There was a gasp as the reality of the activity set in and it turned our conversation much more serious.
1 Corinthians 12:26
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
I've been reading Mirror Ball by Matt Redman and I thought this bit was quite fitting...
I want to return to my NASA visit for a moment. It was not simply the height of the achievement that impressed that day--but also the manner by which it was achieved.
Yes, I was struck by the optimistic thinking of JFK and his government. But I was also compelled by how people got behind the vision, rose up as one, and worked together to achieve the goal. This was a tremendous national adventure involving a huge collective enterprise and massive public finances. The president did not fulfill this dream alone--he was clear in his visionary speech that for this to become a reality the nation would have to go to the moon together. And that is exactly what happened. All in all, over four hundred thousand engineers, scientists, and technicians worked on Apollo 11--and around seventeen thousand people were involved directly or indirectly in the take-off procedures on launch day. Not to mention the financial contribution made by American taxpayers. This was a gigantic team effort.
This page from the history books can inspire us today. The truth is this: All the big dreams and visions we work toward are within reach if we will harness our gifts and energies and pull together in one direction. So many goals that might never be achieved by an individual can be brought into being by working in community. We underestimate just how much power and potential we have when we work and move as one body.
FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND people worked on the Apollo 11?!?! That's an amazing team effort. Can you imagine what it would be like if the Body of Christ was that unified in their purpose!?!?!
"We underestimate just how much power and potential we have when we work and move as one body." That's it my friends. Each person is responsible to do their part. Figure out your gifts and talents and ask God today how he would like you to use them. Make that your prayer every morning. Do your part. Help the Body of Christ to be alive, active and thriving.
Don't know what your gifts are? Click here to take a spiritual gifts test. I would love to know what you learn!
And lastly I would love to thank my wonderful friend Kim for taking all the photos of our evening! Kim is the one on the right. You can check out her blog and her FB photography page. :) She's amazing!