I talked last time about how we see ourselves as a part of the body of Christ. But how should we see others?
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (12-13)
The key thing that Paul is saying here is that we are all one. Sure there are many parts within the body, but we are ultimately one body, and all the parts belong to each other.
He then says that we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Because of this, because it is the same Spirit that has placed us into the body, and the same Spirit that works in each one of us, how then can we look down on others? When we see others, we should see the Spirit who is living within them. Should we then despise the Spirit and his work in them?
We saw earlier that Paul strongly states that we cannot say to another member of the body, “I don’t need you,” for we all need each other. All of us are essential to the proper working of the body. (21-22)
More, Paul says,
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. (23)
Recently I broke my right ring finger playing basketball. I never knew how indispensable it was. I couldn’t grip anything with it wrapped in a splint. Typing became an absolute pain. Things I used to take for granted became difficult if not impossible with my ring finger injured.
And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. (23-24)
Compare our feet with our hands for example. I’ve heard people talk about the beauty of another’s hands, but I don’t think we ever talk about the beauty of a person’s feet. That said, I would daresay that feet get massaged much more than hands do and we’re careful that the shoes we wear not only look good, but also make our feet comfortable.
And so Paul concludes,
But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (24-25)
“Equal concern.” Again, this goes totally against the selfish and prideful attitudes people have towards others and their gifts. Do your gifts make you more concerned about yourself, or about others? Are your gifts making you more inward-focused or outward-focused?
When you look at Jesus and all the powers he possessed, he never used them to glorify himself. Rather, he was always outwardly focused, caring for the people around him.
Paul then adds,
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (26)
Pain is a funny thing. It tends to focus your mind on the part that hurts. Every other part of your body may feel fine, but when you break your finger like I did, you don’t think, “Oh, I’m 99% healthy.” You think, “Ouch!”
And that’s how we should see others. When we see our brothers and sisters in pain, we shouldn’t just ignore them. We need to reach out to them and minister to them.
For as Paul said,
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (27)
So let us never look down on others within the body. God doesn’t. Neither should we. Instead we should see them as God does, as people honored and valuable in his sight.