Reading: 1 Cor. 12:12–27
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corithians 12: 13)
A right understanding of who Jesus is, will lead us in a right understanding of the Church and what it means to be part of it. The Church exists because of the Cross; and if Jesus thinks the Church is important – then so should we.
When we gather in the name of Jesus and in response to God’s call to us to do so, we discover that God communes with this group of imperfect, diverse people; and empowers them to be salt and light in an otherwise unsavoury, dark world.
In our reading, Paul addresses the woeful condition of the Corinthian church, by using the image of the human body to demonstrate how they should value one another. He urges them to look “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” (The Message 1 Cor.12:12)
With the human body as the orientating image, our attention is drawn to verse 13: “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.” (The Message)
The Corinthian church needed to recognise the basis of their fellowship; and so do we, for “we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” This means that together, we have things we share in.
First, we share in Christ’s redemptive work. This fact makes the Church unique. We stand under the same Cross. The same blood atones for our sin. We have been baptized with the same baptism.
Secondly, we have a shared faith. Peter greets the church as “…those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). To be sure, faith needs to deepen, but we all share in a faith which saves.
Thirdly, we share in God’s favour equally. When Paul says that “labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free – are no longer useful,” it is because labels are often used to separate ourselves from one another and almost always, in a negative way.
In the Church, God sees no hierarchy of importance, only faithful fulfilling of ministry.
Our responsibility then, is to take the analogy of the Church as a body seriously as the Holy Spirit leads us in life together.
Faithful heavenly Father, we thank you that you love your Church. It is the Body of Christ. This is what you envisaged beyond the Cross. Help us to avoid the pitfalls of pride and arrogance and not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Help us to see each other as valuable in your sight and therefore valuable in ours. For we are your people, called by your name, O Lord our God. Amen