The church is God’s people meeting. To teach us more, the apostle Paul uses a word picture or metaphor for the church. The church is like a body – one person, but with different parts.
The church in Corinth was a church with lots of problems. Paul wrote the famous 1 Corinthians 13 about love not so they could read it at weddings but because they were so unloving. They needed to learn what love is. They needed to learn how to love other Christians. That is what 1 Corinthians chapter 12 is about.
No one who is speaking by the spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12 verse 3)
Paul starts by explaining who is part of church. (Look at the text above). It is anyone who knows, trusts and serves Jesus. It is not about wearing the right clothes, knowing enough stuff in the Bible, or being good enough. God’s Spirit teaches you to know the truth about Jesus. That makes you part of Jesus’ church.
Now if the foot should say ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. (verse 15)
Then Paul says the church is like a body. A body is one person, but has many parts – the church is one group, but with many parts (that is in verses 12-14). And just as the parts of a body are different – the ear, the nose, the arm and so on – the people in a church family are different. What does that mean for us?
The eye cannot say to the hand ‘I don’t need you!’ (verse 21)
First, Paul says, don’t count yourself as nothing. Just because you do not have an impressive or noticeable role in church life, does not mean you are not part of it. That would be as daft as a foot thinking ‘I’m not as special as the hand, I don’t really belong’. If everyone was a preacher, the church would have no music. If everyone was a musician, who would teach Sunday school?
Then Paul says, don’t look down on those with roles less impressive or less noticeable than yours. That would be as daft as the eye saying to the hand ‘I don’t need you’. God has made them part of the church. We must not say to people, ‘we don’t need you, you don’t do enough’.
Paul is not teaching Christians to work out what part of the body I am, what my ‘gift’ is, so I can use it. He is teaching us to accept others and to be confident that I have a place in the Church family because of Jesus. Be glad for the different people God has put in our church family. Don’t compare yourself to others.
No matter how impressive you are at speaking, how joyful your singing, how exciting and fun the Sunday school class you lead, how brilliant your musical ability, if you do not love Jesus as Lord and saviour, you are not in the body.
What are some of the roles in the church family?
- Vicar – his role is to care for the church, praying for it, teaching the word of truth, protecting against lies, training and helping Christians in their service.
- The wardens – help the vicar lead church life, they are responsible for the care of the buildings, and to protect the vicar from being swamped by admin.
- The Parish Church Council –make decisions about church life, with the vicar, on behalf of the church family. They make decisions about finance
You could use these questions and answers to teach children what we have been hearing about the church.
- What is church? It is Christians meeting together
- Is everyone in the meeting a Christian? Only people who trust Jesus and love him are in his family.
- Should people who are not Christians come? We should welcome other people to our meeting so they can start to be Christians too.
- Why do Christians meet together? Because we love Jesus and want to obey his command to meet.
- What happens in church? When we keep on going to church, God the Holy Spirit uses it to change us
- How does church change us? God the Holy Spirit uses the prayers, the songs, the teaching and other Christians to make us better love God the Father and Jesus his Son.
- What should we try to do in church? We should try to encourage other Christians
- How can you encourage other Christians? Come to church, come on time, join in by listening, singing, saying ‘hello’, being friendly
- Which people can you be friendly to? (Say their names)