Members of One Another

June 14, 2008 Romans 12:5

 

Years ago during the NFL carrier of Dan Marino an epic game was played by Marino’s Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys took and early and commanding lead. But suddenly something ahppende to the Miami offense. Under the leadership of Marino, the Dolphins all-pro quarterback began to move the ball with purpose. Like a precision machine that blended brilliance with intense emotion, they marched down the field and scored a touchdown. The display of unity was awesome! Every player did his part. No one missed an assignment.

Everyone who watched the game that day knew there was no stopping the Dolphins. You could sense and almost feel the unity and focus of that team during the closing minutes of the game. Miami scored three touchdowns in the last few minutes and won the game.

There is power in unity, even in the purely human process of athletics

[The key here is:      unity   è   teamwork   è   working synergistically ]

  • Imagine what happens when this kind of effort is empoweredand energizedby the Holy Spirit.
    • Actually, this is what Jesus had in mind when he prayed that the member of His body would be one as He was one with the Father.

John 17:20-23 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

  • This (unity) is a very important factor, not only building up the body of Christ in love but in being a dynamic witness in the world.
  • This kind of unity defeats Satan!
  • He is powerless to stop a church that is marching forward, “speaking the truth in love”

Ephesians 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

  • And at the same time, demonstrating oneness “in heart and soul”:

Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.

Paul’s Use of Dynamic Metaphors

[How do we best see this concept of unity in the Bible]

The Apostle Paul used several metaphors to describe the church.

  • For example in the Letter to the Corinthians, he used an agriculturalanalogy:

1 Corinthians 3:5-9a What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

  • In the same context, Paul used an architecturalmetaphor.

1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

  • Paul also used an anatomicalmetaphor one of his most graphic illustrations for the church and on that is exclusively his own in the New Testament.
    • Paul identified God’s people as the “body of Christ.”
    • In his letter to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Ephesians, and the Colossians, he penned the word “soma”, which is translated “body”, more than thirty times to illustrate the functioning church.
    • Approximately half of these times, he used the word to refer to the human, physical body with its many parts and members. In the other half, he applied the term to the church, the body of Christ.

The Body Analogy

Because of the carnal nature of the Corinthians church Paul uses the body analogy most frequently to help reestablish unity and break down existing divisions.

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

1 Corinthians 3:1-4 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

  • Paul put forth a clear and concise analogy that illustrated what the body of Christ should look like.
    • This comparison of the human body and Christ’s body, the church.
    • Paul used the word soma fourteen times to illustrate how the human body functions.
    • Paul didn’t what them to miss the point!
  • And since they had previously demonstrated an inability to grasp spiritual truth and were not yet capbable of doing so Paul want to be as clear and simple as he could be.
  • Even the most immature person in Corinth and here today would not miss what the body of Christ needs to be.

Read the text .

1 Corinthians 12:14-26(NLT)Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

  • The most immature person in Corinth would not have missed Paul’s message. His point of application was that Christians are “members one of another.”
  • Thus he concluded these lengthy paragraphs by adding this concise statement and application: 

1 Corinthians 12:27(NIV)Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it

  • An interesting contrast in the maturity of the Corinthian church and the church at Rome is made by Paul.
    • Paul assumed that Roman church understood the body metaphor due to their Christ-like maturity.
    • Consequently, when writing to the Romans he simply states the analogy and them immediately drives home his point of application.

The Metaphor

Romans 12:4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,

The Application:

Romans 12:5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Three Important Truths

In the passages that we have looked at to understand Paul’s body analogy, which clearly shows how the mature church should function, we find three important principles that are just as relevant today for us as they were for the churches at Corinth and Rome.

Interdependence

Interdependence:  No individual Christian can function effectively in isolation and alone.

Athletics are a familiar pastime for most of us.

  • If one is going to be competitive in sports, it is vitally important to develop coordination.
  • Sports test one’s physical coordination to the max.
  • The physical body must work together with all its parts to be competitive.
  • Hand eye coordination is where we find this to be particularly true.
  • Secondly, sports demand the athlete to anticipate what is about to happen and to be able to move in to position even before the actions gets that place on the court or field.
  • Just as “there are many parts of one body” in the makeup of human beings that enable each of us to perform as individual physical units, so the body of Christ, the church, is made up of many individual members;
  • And each member is important.
  • We are indeed “members of one another.”
  • No member of Christ’s body can say, “I don’t need you.”
  • We all need each other.
  •  If we are to win the battle against our opponent in the spiritual realm, we must function as one dynamic unit.

Interdependence and coordination are essential

Humility

Humility: No member of Christ’s body should feel more important than any other member of Christ’s body.

  • No Christian has exclusive rights to God’s grace. This, perhaps, is one of Paul’s major teachings in the passages dealing with body function.
  •  
  • His emphasis is on humility!
  • Though implied all the way through the Corinthian passage (some Corinthians were saying “I don’t need you” and “I’m more important that you”)
  • Paul made it even clearer in a parallel passage in his Roman letter:

Romans 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

  • Paul’s Ephesian letter reflects the same emphasis. Setting the stage for discussing the purpose of gifts as spelled out in:

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

  • Paul wrote:

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

  • Why did Paul emphasize humility, gentleness and patience in the passage?
  • Because as he went on to say,

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit,

  • This is essentially the same thing that was said to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

  • In other words, no member of Christ body is more important than the other.
  • Though one person may have more responsible position, in God’s sight even the person who may go unnoticed is just as important and necessary in the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:22-24On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,

1 Corinthians 12:22-24(NLT) In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.

Calvin Miller was one of the great NFL running backs of all time. However, he had one major area of vulnerability, his big toe! Though not the most appealing or attractive member of his huge frame, when he injured that big toe he could not run effectively. To be able to do his job, he had to allow that member of his body to heal.

So it is with Christ’s body, the church, Paul underscored this point in his Corinthian letter (as seen above in 1 Cor. 12.22-24).

Unity

Unity: Every Christian should work hard at creating unity in the body of Christ.

  • This is why Paul immediately opens the Letter to the Corinthians by saying:

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

  • And this is why he also wrote to the Ephesians in the very same passage where he discussed body function:

Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

  • Emphasizing the same point, he wrote to the Romans:

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

  • Put another way, Paul was exhorting these Christians to do everything they could to “build up one another.”
  • Interdependence
  • Humility
  • Unity

All three are needed in becoming “Members of One Another”.

Questions for discussion:

  1. What does it mean to you personally to be a member of the body of Christ?
  2. Why are interdependence, humility and unity so important for the body of Christ to function? In what specific ways have you seen each of these characteristics in your own church?
  3. What would you consider the marks of Christian maturity? How is maturity developed? What is the relationship between “body