Thursday 30 March 2017

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

“In the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (v. 13)

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Thursday 30 March 2017

Psalm: Psalm 129


Baptism matters more than anything else. For Paul, this isfundamental to his understanding of Christian identity. He hasalready emphasised this to Christians in Galatia: "There is nolonger Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is nolonger male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Here, he makes the same pointto the Christians in Corinth. Whatever differences society or evenfaith create, they are swept away by the overwhelming,life-changing reality of union with Christ through the Spirit inBaptism. The most important thing about Christians is that theyhave died with Christ (symbolised through the 'drowning' ofimmersion Baptism) and risen to new life with him (Romans6:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

This new life is already ours in part, but we shall not receiveit in full until Christ returns (Romans6:8). For the moment, therefore, we live with tension, evenparadox. As Christians, we have new life and yet we also still havethe old life, with all its differences of social status, faith andgender. And on top of that, as Paul has just noted, we havedifferent gifts from the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:8-11). We have so many differences alongside theone key attribute we share.

To help the Corinthians make sense of this, Paul draws on a story from the Roman world, recorded by the historian Livyabout 50 years earlier but evidently part of popular culture andassociated especially with Stoic philosophy. The story centres onthe rejection of one part of the body by all the others, whichquickly leads to disaster. The moral of the tale is that each partof the body needs every other part to flourish.

Paul uses this story as an allegory of the life of the Church.Though we are all different, though we all have different gifts ofthe Spirit, we all have our part to play. He develops it bydistinguishing between 'honourable' and 'less honourable' parts ofthe body and explains how we treat the less honourable parts withgreater modesty.

Why does Paul choose to do this? He is moving towards a rebuketo the Corinthians for valuing certain gifts of the Spirit aboveothers. He finally reaches this point in chapter 14 but he lays the ground herethrough his insistence that the Church, the Body of Christ, needsevery gift of the Spirit equally, and needs to show greater respectto those who are blessed with the less flamboyant gifts. No-oneshould boast; no-one should feel inferior; we all depend on eachother in our union with Christ.

To Ponder

  • Who is there in your church whose gifts could be better usedfor the good of the whole body? (This might include you!) How couldyou go about helping this change to happen?
  • Paul borrows the story of the body from his cultural context.What pictures or stories from your own culture could you use tomake the same point for our own times? 
Previous Page Wednesday 29 March 2017
Next Page Friday 31 March 2017