Last week we focused on the Corinthian church’s being “unaware” of sound doctrine.
Everyone should ask God what gift they have been given by the Holy Spirit. God expects us to use our spiritual gifts to share the gospel.
So Does my gift matter? Yes, your gift makes a difference.
BELIEVERS ARE ONE IN CHRIST – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
The church is like a body. The body is one unit, one entity, one being; but it is made up of many parts. Church is the same one unit and many parts.
Let’s go over these verses and see phrases that Paul uses to highlight the unity of the church. In order to experience true unity within the church, each believer must humbly submit to Christ and to one another.
So the body is made up of many parts each designed to work in HARMONY with the others. We talked last week about basic knowledge, think about those things and how we do them without thinking. But all of these require body parts working together simultaneously. THE BODY NEEDS UNITY.
ONE: We are already one. We are already unified because of Christ. We need to live that way and continue in a way that keeps that unity growing. Ephesians 4:3 says so.
CHRIST: We must humbly submit to Christ in order to experience true unity within the church.
DRINK: Refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within every believer.
One characteristic of great authors is that they use comparisons to simplify complex material. Just like that Paul used body parts to resemble the gifts – all are important and needed. They are diverse but unified in harmony to make up the church.
About the comparison that Paul makes to the body parts…
A little background on why perhaps Paul used “body parts” as a comparison from “The Corinth and the body of Christ” by Scott Hummel. In Greek Mythology, Asclepius was the god of medicine. He would treat those with diseases like a tumor on their body with a mild magical spell or giving people a healing drink or ointments. Visitors to Corinth found the Asclepeion, the temple complex of Asclepius. The two-level complex included a court, a Doric temple, water basins, a long altar, an offering box, dining facilities, an area for the sacred serpents, and the sleeping quarters.
Those who were seeking healing would go through a purification period like bathing for ritual cleansing, offering sacrifices like animals or food and abstaining from sex or food.
The most distinct part of the stay at Asclepeion was the incubatio or sleeping in the temple. They would bring people to the sleeping chamber, lay them down on pallets in the dark room and in their sleep Asclepius would heal them or give them dreams on how to get healed. Snakes and dogs would be used to promote healing. Healing obtained at this temple would be a mix or miracles and the best therapeutic method of the day. Many people would come healing. In an effort to convince the gods people made vows to keep. A votive offering is one that a person would give as an offering. These votive offerings were terra-cotta reproductions of body parts that had been healed. Some of them were so detailed that they revealed which part had the disease. In this image we see arms, legs, feet, heads, etc.
Today, we still use this greek mythology in the medicine world. Like logos, representing this god of medicine. And also names of the instruments used for surgery like the scalpel.
The analogy of the body of Christ took on a deeper and more vivid meaning in Corinth because of the presence of the Asclepeion and the votive offerings of specific body parts that people gave in gratitude for healing. The Corinthian believers could visualize all the visitors who came to Corinth seeking healing. The thousands of votive offerings in the shapes of body parts not only expressed gratitude for healing, they signified the importance of each part to the whole body. As Paul spoke metaphorically of the foot, hand, ear, and eye, each of these parts were literally represented in the Temple of Asclepius. A part may seem lesser or weaker until it no longer works or is diseased. Then the whole body is acutely aware of its importance and value. Furthermore, each terra-cotta body part served as a tangible reminder that disease in one part could spread throughout the entire body.
ALL BELIEVER’S GIFTS ARE IMPORTANT – 1 Corinthians 12:15-20
So which body part is more important? Maybe you might think that it’s a hand. Spend a day writing or shaving with the other hand and see if that makes life difficult! How annoying it is to get an injury! The most important part might be something small.
Have you ever had a toothache? We appreciate the molar in those times.
Some believers may think that their gifts are not important. We must guard against the temptation to overvalue some gifts and undervalue others – the church is not whole unless all parts work together.
PLACED / ARRANGED: God has been strategically working, placing each body part in the body “just as he wanted” We are an important part of His plan, along with every believer.
Which is the great struggle for you? Considering yourself more important or useful or underestimating your importance? How do you keep a proper balance between these two extremes?
ALL BELIEVERS GIFTS ARE NEEDED – 1 Corinthians 12:21-22
WEAKER: The word “weaker” in verse 22 means “without strength, feeble sick” Corinthians were looking down on the value on certain believers based on their “small gift”. Although these gifts may play a vital role!
We may not think of Paul as a comedian but he sure did tell a joke when he said some of these things. Consider your foot going on strike. (PAUL’S GOT JOKES) Protest signs. What is your foots complaint? It doesn’t like it! He wants to be a hand!
Completely ridiculous right?
Yet when its played out at church it is sad.
We are all important. We cannot be like “We don’t need you!” We have to welcome new laborers. We must not cling to control. We need one another. The spiritual giftedness each person brings to the table is important.
Earlier Paul questioned if the body parts would be all the same and where we would go. NOWHERE! Your gift has been given to your for a purpose: Your church, your community. PUT THEM TO WORK!
How well are you using your gift to serve God in your church and community?
STEPS To use your GIFTS.
1: Think about your gifts.
2: Ask yourself / examine calendar
3: Pray and ask God
*Most of the contents from this lesson came from Lifeway’s YOU curriculum and are to be used for the purposes of complementing this lesson.