To prove that God is both kind and has a sense of humor, I missed one of the “one anothers” when I preached last night. It was the one I was most concerned that I’d be putting too much of my personal observations in the message and the one I spent the whole afternoon working on to make sure I didn’t go too far. Simply hilarious.
I’m also glad that I skipped it in a way because it is the most potentially contentious of everything I was going to talk about because it would call people to consider their own hearts in their body life associations. Here it is for those of you who care to read it. You can tell me if you think it’s better unsaid…
1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (English Standard Version)
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.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
We need to consider this verse in the broader context. Paul is addressing the fact that all the believers in Corinth were members of the same body. Remember that earlier in the letter he warns them about divisions between those who linked themselves to Apollos or Paul or Christ. There were even lawsuits among the Christians. Later he talks about the division between some in Corinth and Paul himself. There continued to be schisms in the body regarding communion, marriage, giving, and of course in this chapter the possession of and use of spiritual gifts. The summary of their sin is that they were stuck on selfish.
These selfish people frequently looked down on others who weren’t as strong as them or were trapped in old ways of thinking or bad habits. Paul, beginning in verse 22 here warns the Corinthians that those who are weak are not tolerable, not worth having around, but necessary or as the ESV renders it INDESPENSIBLE. If you look around and see someone who you believe is weak, this church needs them. We know that because God has placed them in our midst.
What I want to draw your attention to is the cure for division. What does Paul say is the cure for division in verse 25? The answer is caring for one another.
It’s important to ask what kind of care this is. This is the kind of care that sees the good of the whole as good for each member. Pain in your foot makes your hand less steady, your eye less certain and your mind less keen. God tells us thru Paul that we all ought to seek to care for members of this body – regardless of whether we think they are weak, they brought it on themselves, we handled that same issue without help or whatever other excuse we might use to feed our flesh’s desire to make it all about us. Do you believe that? Do you believe those people are necessary? Then care for them so that the body is not divided.
How can we show care for one another and not division?
In one sense, division is strength. We have something in excess of 640 skeletal muscles in our bodies. If they were all in our hand, things wouldn’t work well. We need smaller groups of body parts to work well in unison and that’s an effective picture of how we want K groups to work also.
I think, however, that too many times we are divided in our K Groups because we want to be with people who are like us. This is another area where I want to be very clear in what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. I don’t want to go any farther in my comments than the Bible does. One thing I’ve observed over the years is the desire for many in our body to be in a K Group with people who look a lot like they do. This is true of their age, their station in life, their kids ages, their economic status, their occupation, their family size and their probably their favorite color. In some cases there are reasons for the exclusivity – we should honor anyone with special conditions and I want to be clear that I’m not judging anyone on a non-essential aspect of our walk but please bear with me as I make some observations.
K Groups are the one interpersonal ministry in our body that does not discriminate on age, gender or spiritual giftedness. Our kids from age 0 to college/career can be with kids their own age in youth group and Sunday school. Ministry team members are together during their meetings. Retired people and empty nesters have far more free time than most families with kids, especially smaller kids in which to get together. Men and women have their respective Bible Studies. K Groups are designed to be different – a little picture of the body lived out in someone’s home. I want to just ask some questions and if the Spirit of God speaks to you on any of these points then I will leave Him to His work.
1. Many families with children in our body either do not have believing parents or their parents are far away. Where are the people Jesus promised would be their father and mother if they left theirs for the kingdom? How has God planned for this promise to be fulfilled? Is it not in the local church body and is not the very best vessel for this inside of a K Group?
2. I want you older ladies to know that one of the most common desires I’ve heard about K Groups is from younger moms to have a an older lady in their group. Where will they find these older ladies where there is the consistency of time and purpose to build the kind of thing we see in Titus 2?
3. How will our kids know what to aspire toward several years down the road if they are only ever put places where there are kids their own age? Where will they find the “older child” to watch and learn?
4. Throughout the Scriptures we see over and over older believers working with younger to train them in the ways of the Lord. Would we know who Timothy or Titus or Silas or even John Mark was if not for Paul grabbing them and preparing them for the future?
5. Who will prepare our empty nesters to be grandparents and wise counselors to their own children once they have kids?
6. How do we prepare ourselves to minister to strangers with ways that differ than ours if we do not get experience with people who are different than us but love us and are committed to help us grow in sensitivity and understanding of them?
If we don’t care for one another in this way and foster division, we are sinning.