1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the (human) body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with (the “body of Christ” known as the church). 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (church)—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit…15 If the foot would 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…18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose… 21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…
Throughout his first letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul has been addressing divisions of various kinds in the church. This is not hard to imagine given the great diversity of the people in ancient Corinth, which was among the great cities of the ancient world and a particularly strong commercial hub.
Some less prominent people in the Corinthian church questioned if they truly belonged to the congregation because they were not among the privileged classes. Paul challenged these kinds of divisions inside of the church, though they were fundamental to the world outside of the church All of the people were needed, were important, though they might have been quite different. This sense of equality among the believers would have been quite rare in an ancient world that went to great lengths to separate the “haves” and the “have nots”.
There are various kinds of currency in today’s world that can determine your status and/or perceived value: money, good looks, talent, youth, education, connections, smarts, and so on. Some questions:
1. As you reflect upon the community to which you belong (church community or otherwise) – are you perceived as one of the “haves” or “have nots”?
2. If you are among the privileged or “haves”, do you model respect for those who are less so? Would those among the “have nots” agree with you?
3. If you are among the less privileged in your community, especially the church, do you understand that you are as important to the body as anyone else?
Lord Jesus, from its very beginnings, the church has been a place of great diversity – particularly economic diversity. Give us grace to live together in harmony, honoring one another as equals, even when the world around us tells us we are not. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.