Caring for Each Other in the Church

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.

1 Corinthians 12:25

In 1 Corinthians 12, after explaining that the body is composed of diverse members, Paul goes on to show that some of the weakest members of the body are, in some ways, the most necessary (12:22). He may well be thinking of our vital organs, which are weak in the sense that they are vulnerable, but also which are essential for life. Your stomach, for example, can't defend itself, but you won't live very long without it.

God's design of the human body—and, by analogy, the church as the body of Christ—intentionally gives special honor to parts that might appear to be less honorable (12:24). Why? Paul answers this way: "This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other" (12:25). That last phrase might be rendered more literally: "So that the members might care in the same way for each other." In God's vision for the church, all of the members care for each other in a tapestry of compassion and love.

1 Corinthians 12:25 does not mean that churches should never designate certain people, such as pastors or deacons, who take on specific responsibilities for caring for people in the church. But this passage does imply that it's wrong for churches to assign the responsibility of caring only to a few people. When I was Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, some people expected me and my ordained colleagues to be the primary or even exclusive caregivers in the church. They did not want to receive care from other members. Nor did they accept their responsibility to be agents of care for others. Their view of the church had been shaped by their experience of church as a place where the professionals give care to the receivers. But this vision was inconsistent with biblical teaching. It impoverishes a church. Moreover, it actually cheats those who see themselves only as receivers of care, since some of the most fulfilling moments in our lives are the times we experience God using us to minister to others.

From a biblical point of view, pastors and other leaders are meant, not only to care for people, but also and especially to train them to care for each other (see Eph. 4:11-12). Their efforts help the church to be all that God has intended it to be: a body in which all members have the same care for each other.


How do you view the church when it comes to the issue of care? Do you see yourself as a caregiver? What might keep you from experiencing the mutual care envisioned in this passage from 1 Corinthians 12? What helps you to be a caregiver as well as a care-receiver in the church?


Thank you, dear Lord, for designing the church as a body in which members are to exercise mutual care. Thank you for all the times this happens, as Christians care for each other faithfully, tenderly, sometimes boldly, and sacrificially.

As you know, Lord, it is all too common for us to see the church less as a body of mutual care and more as an institution with professional caregivers. We find it easy to assign caregiving to a few. And, if truth be told, sometimes those of us who are the designated caregivers hold onto our roles too tightly because we feel valued and loved when we care for others. Forgive us, Lord, when we who are called to equip the body for mutual care end up doing all of the care ourselves.

Help your people, Lord, to see themselves in light of your revelation. Help each member of your church to accept his or her calling to care for others. I pray specifically for my church today, that we might become more and more a body in which all the members care for each other.

I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Note: This reflection was originally published in 2010.