25th January 2020

Community in Christ

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12:12 (NRSV)

There is a scripture which I find so funny that I can laugh out loud while hearing it. This can be a little disconcerting for anyone trying to preach on this section of the Bible, so I do my best to stifle the giggles. The guilty Bible verses may well surprise you, because they’re found in Paul’s letters: “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Corinthians 12:17). Why is that funny? Well, this imagery casts my mind back to when I was a young lad—I remember cartoon images of a giant eye with spindly arms and legs. It always raises a chuckle!

I’m not sure that Paul meant his comments to be funny, but they were designed to be ludicrous. To exist, our human bodies need a heart, brain, liver and lungs, along with all the other members of our anatomy. To be just an eye is not enough; nor would just being a head. To live, our bodies need a community of members. And that is Paul’s point: using the analogy of the human body, he points out that we are not meant to be individual and isolated Christians. As Gary Deddo has pointed out, “We all are made for community, and we mature in community.”

“I” am not enough to attempt to be a Christian. Christianity requires me to be in relationship. We need each other. That is the way that God has set it up. “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). The answer is of course, ‘No.’ One individual is never given the ‘whole set’ of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There are times when I serve; and there are times when I am served. There are occasions when I encourage others; and there moments when others encourage me. Sometimes, others bring much needed grace into my life; and sometimes I bring grace to others. We grow, as Christians, in relationship. That should not come as a surprise, for we find that ‘relationship’ is an eternal dynamic: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always existed in fellowship and communion. God’s way of being reflects how we, the church, should interact with one another.

Our destiny is to experience that communion forever: that through the Holy Spirit, we share in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. So, fellowship will always be ‘a key characteristic’ that we need to grow in! The culture we live in promotes individualism; that we are our own answer to all problems at all times. If you are ever tempted to think like that, then remember that giant eye with spindly arms and legs – and laugh! It is a most effective means of remembering that life is not meant to be that way. There is only one way of growing in the faith – together!

Prayer
Father, you have called us together as a community to worship you. We grow in serving others; we grow in allowing others to serve us. Together, you fashion us more and more – everyday – into the image of your Son, Jesus. Show us that ‘more excellent way’ of love, which can only be found in relationship. In Christ’s name we pray.
Amen

Study by Ian Woodley
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About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of Grace Communion International, UK.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EDINBURGH
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

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