“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:18–20, KJV)
One of the most frightening movies I saw as a child was “The Wizard of OZ.” Yes, the wicked witch scared me, but it was the flying monkeys that scared me the most. However, that is not the point of this devotion. There were three strange characters that Dorothy encountered. The Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man. Each one of these characters was deficient in some way. The Lion did not have courage, the Scarecrow did not have a brain, and the Tin Man did not have a heart. Yet, in the movie, these missing parts did not make these characters inanimate. They were ones that hindered their function. It is towards the end of Dorothy’s adventure in OZ that these odd characters experience a transformation and receive what they were missing and display essential qualities in life.
Paul used a metaphor of the human body to refer to the church. In it, he compared varied parts of the body to believers with a diversity of spiritual gifts. God has designed the human body in a beautiful way. Every part of the body has a unique and vital purpose in the complexity of the whole. No single member of the human body is unimportant all have a purpose. Paul used the parts like the eyes and the ears to make his point. If all parts were eyes, how could one hear? Moreover, if all parts were ears, how could one see.
Once I preached on this passage by making a four-foot-tall Mr. Potato Head. On it I affixed eyes, a nose, ears, hands and feet. Yes, the congregation thought it was quite ridiculous, but those present did not forget what I was saying. I removed the eyes and put the ears there, and vice versa. I did the same with the hands and the feet. The point is this. When parts of the body are not participating, the function of the whole is impaired.
In the same way, the Lord has put local churches together with very unique parts. Every believer is quite unique. Each has special talents and spiritual giftings. Moreover, He has placed in the local assembly every thing it needs to fulfill its purpose in God’s great redemptive program. No believer is more valuable than another and none is less important.
I have seen problems in churches where there is an undercurrent of spiritual pride, where people see a hierarchy to gifts and talents in the body. This is very detrimental. Some who feel that they are more important stymie the participation of others. Some who feel they are less important do not participate with the vigor that they might, sometimes even ignoring their opportunities for service. I have also seen spiritual leaders overlook the talents and giftings of those in their midst. All of this weakens the effectiveness of the body.
Like the three characters in OZ, who could not function fully because they lacked courage, intellect, or emotion, churches that do not engage all believers in the church will fall short. The church is the body of Christ, and it functions best when all members are using their unique gifts and talents for the glory of God.