Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
The church at large seems to be afraid or at least shy about talking about the wonderful gift of God’s Holy Spirit. Misuse has led to this fear. We need to let go of that fear. The Holy Spirit is part of God, the Father and Jesus, The Son, the Three-in-One who helps us grow and mature in our intimate love of God and love for others. Growth and maturity, behaving more and more in every way like Christ, comes from the “various ways God’s Holy Spirit gets worked into our lives.”
God decides how, when, where, why, and what in this holy activity of transforming us to BE the Body of Christ as ONE Body with many parts. No part is more important than any other part. All that we are and all we do as believers, parts of the Body of Christ, is driven by God’s Holy Spirit. Our work as believers is to let God do what He does best, by the power of His Holy Spirit, in us to bring us closer and closer to Him.
“All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit to all kinds of people”, says Paul as he explains the Holy uses of these gifts. What I have experienced in my lifetime and verified by this passage is that when we yield to the Holy Spirit with what God has given us to be and do we see that our part joins with others active parts to build up, encourage the other parts of the Body of Christ. Our part helps others find and follow Christ. Our part helps other parts grow in Him! Our love deepens and grows exponentially because of God’s Holy Spirit working in all of us as One Body, the Body of Christ. Christ is the Head of the Body. We are the parts.
God decides what our part will be. ALL we are and ALL we do originate from God. He decides when and where. We don’t. He knows what part His Body needs most and provides it so that the Body of is healthy, growing and full of love.
As baby boomers we are notorious for hating labels and comparisons. Guess what? In God’s Kingdom ALL labels the world has given us disappear! The Holy Spirit gives us a great, new identify at rebirth. Our forever identify is now only in Christ, KING of kings and LORD of lords. How significant we become as part of the Body of Christ! The Holy Spirit does not bring us down to be less, but gifts us to be more, to contribute more, as the Body of Christ!
“We see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it, Paul explains, “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.” Mankind ranks the importance of our work, God does not. Bear that in mind. Take joy in the thought!
BIG PICTURE: “You are Christ’s Body–that’s who you are! You must never forget this.” Accept the gift God’s Spirit has given and be grateful for the part He decided we should contribute to keep the Body healthy, growing and maturing in His love.
1 Corinthians 12, The Message
12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.
4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
12-13 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.
14-18 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.
19-24 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?
25-26 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.
27-31 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. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:
those who pray in tongues.
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.
But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.
Tomorrow….the “better way”!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We repent of looking the other way, not using your gifts to us according to your Holy Spirit, with lack of obedience and sheer laziness. May our desires match Your desires for our part in your Body. May Your Holy Spirit cleanse us, transform us so that weakness becomes strength which helps others to grow as well. You are God and we are not. Transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.