By Pastor Pete Smith
August 17, 2023

In my previous career as a police officer I once made a traffic stop and, after approaching the driver’s window, found he had not lowered it.  I motioned to him so he cracked it a few inches and told me he did not recognize my authority.  He commented that I was not a sheriff’s deputy and repeated, “So I do not recognize your authority.”  I explained that the state disagreed with him and asked for his license.  He gave it to me as he repeated his position regarding his perception of my authority.  I learned he had a warrant for his arrest and as he was placed into the back of my patrol car you can probably guess what he said.  “I do not recognize your authority.”

I was grateful the man’s obstinance never resulted in a physical altercation, but it reminded me of something that parents teach their children.  It is the principle that merely saying something (even repeatedly and with conviction) doesn’t make it true.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 describes how Christians are unified in a unique way.  “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. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:12-13).

Denying that unity, due to insecurity or arrogance, does not make it true, and both are addressed in the passage.  As to the insecure, consider the following.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. (1 Cor. 12:14–18)

Some Christians experience a sense of inadequacy.  They see their contribution to the church as insubstantial or deficient in some way.  However, these verses are a clear indicator that there is no place for this kind of self-doubt.  There is no part of the body that is less esteemed because it is unlike another part.  God assigned your particular talents and abilities to you and you are expected to exercise them within the local church.  Denying their usefulness does not make them any less valuable.

Conversely, no Christian should ever pit his gifts against others.  It is never appropriate to inflate one’s own worth in the church.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1 Cor. 12:21–25)

There are two things a Christian must never say.  First, never devalue your contribution to the kingdom of God by saying of yourself, “Because I am not.” Second, never diminish the worth of another by saying, “I have no need of you.”  Both are sinful and untrue.  God has “arranged” and “composed” the body using the constituent parts that He designed.  And for what purpose?  “That the members may have the same care for one another.”

The right questions are, “What is my part?”  And, “How can I use it to care for the other ones?”  Whether you’re a mouth, an arm or a toe, be the best member of the body of Christ that you can possibly be.  You know your role is important because God saying something absolutely makes it true!

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