Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, NKJV
Football is considered by many to be America’s most popular sport, and I have to admit that I enjoy watching my team take the field and battle it out against their division rivals. It’s exciting to watch everything that’s happening, from the way that the five offensive linemen work in unison, to the choreography of the defensive backs and linebackers roaming the secondary.
In other sports, it seems like one superstar can carry an entire team, but football is different. A quarterback is no good if his receivers can’t hold onto the ball, and a running back isn’t likely to get very far without an offensive line punching holes for him. The players are interdependent. They need each other and must function together within a system.
I occasionally think about this when I look at the New Testament church as seen in 1 Corinthians 12:12–26. If the local church wants to be an instrument of the Lord, then it needs to function the way He has designed it—as a body. The Apostle Paul brings some important things to our attention about participating in a church.
First, we ought to realize that we need each other in order to accomplish what we are called to do (1 Corinthians 12:12–19). When teams take the field, there will be 11 men lining up together. If only two or three go out to play while the rest sit on the sideline, they would have to forfeit the game. If half the squad stand with their hands on their hips, the entire team is going to be badly beaten.
Similarly, the people in the church—parts of one body—need each other. In the church of Corinth, some of the members thought that they were too insignificant to be used within the congregation. Paul argues that it is God who has arranged each of the members for His purpose and given each one their talents. Every member, therefore, is important and needed because God Himself has equipped that believer for some type of service within the body.
Second, we ought to realize the interdependence of each member (1 Corinthians 12:20–25). Just as a cornerback is reliant upon the defensive end to pressure the quarterback, each member of the body depends on the other members to fulfill their function. The eyes have a responsibility, and it is different from the function of the fingers. Though every member of the church body is independent, they are dependent on each other as they seek to work together effectively.
Third, we ought to sympathize with each other, because when one member suffers, the whole body suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26). Those who watch football regularly are familiar with the sad scene that often takes place when a significant injury occurs; players kneeling nearby, showing concern and praying. When their teammate is in pain, they’re in pain. Conversely, when the quarterback sets a passing record, the team celebrates the accomplishment with him. Likewise, the body of Christ mourns and celebrates together in both bad times and good because they feel each other’s pain and joy in an almost literal sense.
The next time you watch a football game, focus on those moving parts and the interconnectedness of your team as they all strive towards one goal, and then consider your service in the body of your church. As much as I love football, Christ’s body, the church—and your role as a part of that body—is eternally more significant in a world that desperately needs the Savior.
Have you ever asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? In Him you can find your true purpose and peace.
Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
21 And 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 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,
24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,
25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.