Body Life (2): The Same, Only Different

2016/01/24 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 19
Children, Luke 4.14-21; song, “Father Abraham”
Message, 1 Corinthians 12.12-31 (1-31)

Update (re last week’s message):
For most of us, the ideals that Paul shares for intimate relationships is something that we miss by a mile. Our stories are full of brokenness and failure. There is hope. Note that Paul is sharing this with the Corinthians – members of Christ patronizing prostitutes, spouses denying their love to one another – and he does so not to tell them that they are being bad, but because the promise of God is still open to them, there is wholeness for our brokenness, forgiveness for our failure.

Alternative title: Parts Is Parts
      Hippies and the uptight, re body consciousness, modesty
      Last week, “members of Christ” united to prostitutes. This week “members of the body”. Same word in Greek.
      Paul: euphemistic speech for male genitalia: “body parts that seem to be delicate/weaker are indispensable.… If one part suffers (is in pain), all suffer with it; if one part is honored, all rejoice with it”

Title: Same, only different
      Expression that allows us to include a great variety of things
      Same car, except color, 2/4 door …

Twins: Robin and Betty 
1 Corinthians 12:4-6  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;  6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
      Diversity rooted in Trinity (see also Fee, 585)
      Not providing an exhaustive or systematic list of gifts – just enough to show the diversity God desires and get them beyond their “singular emphasis” (Fee, 585)
      Likewise, Unity rooted in the Trinity

Cookie cutter
It’s a devious little device
It shows blatant disregard for individuality
It promotes the herd mentality
      Cookie cutter, Kia Optima ad
      Voiced by Christopher Walken

We desire to be a place where each of us can truly be ourselves. Yet we know our perceptions and judgments get in the way. When someone is different, when something is different, especially when it does not match our expectations, all of us struggle to adjust.

Order and Power
Strong versus Weak in Corinth
      Already like the angels – don’t need sex in the present, don’t need bodies in the future, already speak an angelic language – truly spiritual (Fee, 573)
      The whole body should be one member: “If all were a single member….”

Everyone “should” … be spiritual like us
      Language of judgment and power, strong vs weak
      Language of privilege – eligibility for consideration
      Language of policy, not of freedom
      Language of turf – my closet, my paperclips

Typical rhetorical pattern with body/members language in 1st century: focus on body as well-organized and under the authority of a “head”. In this passage, there is no “head” and no “headship” talk. The expected dynamics that reinforce order and power are turned upside down when Paul declares, “On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor”.
      God’s judgment is not as strong against the weak, but a judgment of the whole community by how it treats its weakest members
      “First apostles.…” Acknowledges order of an organization, as well as life of an organism. What is listed as first is not only for the sake of an organization, but an effort to help the Corinthians see beyond their focus on gifts independent from the way they serve the body.

Unity in Diversity: We are only the body of Christ TOGETHER. We need each other to be whole. Without the weakest part, we are diminished. The weakest, the strangest, the newest, the oldest, are indispensable to the body.
      Helen & Etta
      Sheila preparing SS curriculum
      Children giving hugs
      Joe & Curtis driving people

Evangelism: Together, as the body of Christ, we manifest Jesus in the world. People meet Jesus through us as a body. Multiple gifts.
      Evangelism = Sharing “good news”. Jesus comes to bring “good news” to the poor. Together, we are called to transform the world.

Care: We are the body of Christ as we care for the weakest among us. And, we’ve all got a turn coming in the “weak” category. Lectio: If we experienced the body of Christ the way we experience the pain of our own body, we might do more for each other.
      “And now I will show you a more excellent way”. Chapter 13 – LOVE.


Gordon Fee. 1987. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.


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