Keeping Christmas Well: Be Part of Christ’s Presence in the WorldDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27
How is Christ present in the world today? How can you and I represent him in our daily lives? Our text from 1 Corinthians 12 answers these questions by use of an incarnational analogy.
First-century Corinthian culture prized spiritual experience and personal accomplishment. Thus it encouraged both preoccupation with one’s religious prowess and prideful boasting. This cultural tide inundated the Christian community in Corinth, leading some to boast so much of their spiritual achievements that they denigrated the worth of their less-accomplished brothers and sisters in Christ. These folk, in turn, began to doubt their value to the community because their experiences of the Spirit were less dramatic than those of their boastful siblings.
The apostle Paul, who had planted the Corinthian church, realized that his young flock needed more than an exhortation to value each other. They needed to see themselves in a whole new light as the community of God. In order to foster this fresh vision, Paul used the analogy of the human body in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Just as the physical body has diverse parts, and just as all parts are essential for the body to function well, so it is with the Christian community. “All of you together are Christ’s body,” Paul wrote, “and each of you is a part of it” (12:27). Therefore every member matters to the body, and every member has the responsibility of caring for every other member. Nobody is inconsequential. Nobody is dispensable. Everybody matters if the church, as the body of Christ, is to be healthy, strong, and growing.
The original body of Christ in the world was the actual physical body of Jesus, in whom the Word of God was present. This body is no longer present on the earth. But the church of Jesus Christ is now his body in a somewhat different, but still essential, way. As we gather in fellowship and worship, and as we scatter into the world, we represent Jesus. We will only do this effectively when we act as a body in which all parts are valuable and active in ministry.
The church of Jesus Christ needs the message of 1 Corinthians 12-14 just as much today as the Corinthians needed it in the first century A.D. We tend to overvalue the contributions of a few members of the church, usually the pastors and other visible leaders, and devalue the contributions of "ordinary" folk. How often have you heard or even said, “I’m just a lay person,” as if lay people mattered less than clergy. The church in our day needs to hear once again the good news that we are the body of Christ, and therefore every member has inestimable value.
Keeping Christmas well means living in this world incarnationally as a member of the body of Christ. It means actively participating in the church and joining with this community to bear witness, in word and deed, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you live as an active, connected part of the body of Christ? What helps you to know that you have a crucial role in the Christian community? Are there specific ways God is calling you to strengthen your relationship with the body of Christ?
PRAYER: Gracious God, even as you once were present on this earth through the human body of Jesus, today you are present through the body of Christ, the church.
Thank you for making us part of your body in this world. You have joined us to the church so that we might receive care, grow in our discipleship, and contribute to the growth of others. Though church life is sometimes messy, thank you for all the ways you minister to us through our fellow Christians.
O Lord, help your church to take seriously the value of each member to the whole body. Even as we respect those who are set apart as ordained ministers, may we remember that we are all your ministers and that all of us have a role to play in your church.
Strengthen us individually and corporately so that we might serve you, not only in our fellowship together but also as we go out into the world. May we be your body for others, even as you once communicated your grace through the literal body of Jesus. Amen.
Mark Roberts is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast. Send a note to Mark.
Best Of 2014
How do you measure a year? Days? Cups of coffee? Celebrations? Goodbyes? In 2014, something we’ve noticed at the High Calling is more and more people engaging with the message that God cares about everything in life—even the most mundane moments.
In the end, we consider 2014 a success if we have served you well, Reader. Some may consider it a strange way to show love: typing on a keyboard and submitting content into the faceless void of the Internet. This is why your actions matter so much to us. When you spend a few minutes reading an article, when you share a video or a Facebook post, we know you were inspired. When you send us a short note, you give us an opportunity to listen to you.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for spending time with us. We hope you enjoy the Best of 2014!