1 Corinthians 12:7-26
In this article I want to build on some teachings about the Christian and the church that we all (should) know. But in writing to such a broad audience, it is impossible to know where you are in your spiritual growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18). But I hope you know the following:
- The church is the spiritual body of Christ
- Every follower of Christ is a member of his spiritual body
- Everyone in Christ’s body shares many blessings: new life, a vital relationship with God, the position of an adult son, the standing of a royal priest, and the possession of one or more spiritual gifts to equip each one for ministry in the body
- These truths have a global and local significance
Each of us is given a place in the body by the Holy Spirit. No Christian is left out (12:7). Every learner of Jesus has a significant place to fill. Our Sovereign Lord has formed each of us with a unique combination of personality, genetic material, family and ethnic heritage, personal experiences and spiritual gifts to display his glory in special ways. And each part of the body of Christ will be in the process of development or decline. This can be very complex! Surprising as it may sound; you might be improving in some areas and declining in others. What is your spiritual health?
Your place in Christ’s spiritual body is for the common good (12:7). We live in a very “me-centered” time. “What is in this local gathering of believers for me?” is the only question many seem to consider. Two basic questions about any assembly (church) are: Does it delight in God’s truth? Does it delight to love God and people? Yet countless professed believers will focus on a church’s programs, facilities, “demographics” (ethnicity, economic and educational levels, and age groupings), and other less important matters. However, the Holy Spirit wants us to understand that he places us in a local church “for the common good”. Yes, we all are needy people in various ways. So then, we dare not look at a church from the standpoint of “what is this church doing for me?” That attitude has crippled churches for years. I boldly ask, “What are you doing for the good of people in Christ with whom you share life?” I think that way of putting it unmasks one of the hindrances to the church in our time. Those who know the Lord Christ share life in him. We want to share our lives with others who know the Lord. Ask, “What can I do for the benefit of my brothers and sisters in the Lord?”
The Spirit equips each one for his or her place in the body (12:8-11). The Spirit of God does not thrust Christ’s people into positions unprepared. He gives each person special abilities to minister in the body for the common good. Consider Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11. Every member has a function to fulfill. For example, those gifted with the gift of showing mercy need to step in and do the job when there is a need for mercy. If you see a need in your fellowship of believers and think that you know how to meet that need, the Lord might be calling you to serve and to meet that need.
The Spirit determines what place each one has (12:11). This causes people discomfort. We want to fill a function in the church that we like, and we fail to appreciate others who are functioning to the best of their ability. There is no reason to “seek the gifts”, as many use the term, since the Spirit gives according to God’s own pleasure. We can be sure that the Lord has very good reasons for giving people the gifts that he does. This ought to cause us to appreciate and admire the Spirit’s will. We ought to rejoice in the way that the Lord has put his body together. Are you fulfilling a function in your local church? What is God doing through you? How does your ministry show forth the power of the ascended Christ by his Spirit?
Grace and peace, David