Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
…But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. – 1 Corinthians 12.12-14 &18.20From Martin Hayward:
What a difference a day makes… or, in this case a couple of months! Just a few weeks ago the news focus was all about the “important” people in society: the politicians and bankers, sports heroes and good-looking actors and actresses. But now the focus has changed completely on to what are suddenly called “key workers” in the NHS, classrooms, supermarkets and essential services. We have even taken to opening our windows and giving them a communal round of applause and banging our saucepans to show our appreciation of their skills, dedication and bravery. And who is the new national hero? None other than 100 year-old Grandfather, Captain – now Colonel – Tom, who showed such grit by doing 100 laps of his garden to raise sponsorship amounting to a staggering £30 million.
Here’s one aspect of society that I hope and pray doesn’t change too much when we eventually find our new “normal” after lockdown. It’s taken a pandemic to remind us about the true nature of society which, without the work of so many “ordinary” people, would simply fall apart. And it is exactly what Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthians, only here he is talking about church society.
For too long, the priests and bishops, household-name evangelists and theologians have been seen by many as the backbone of the church, whereas there are two truths which stand apart from that misapprehension. The first is that the real work of the church depends on the ordinary members – people who leave their pews and go and serve Christ by serving others. Most of the time it goes unnoticed as they sacrificially help their neighbours, dedicate themselves to looking after their elderly relatives or sick children, support foodbanks and mission societies. They spread the gospel right where they are by words and deeds and acts of kindness.
The second truth is that the head of the church is Jesus himself, and the Holy Spirit is the oxygen that keeps it alive. We are all members together with God in his church and every member has his part to play. Perhaps this pandemic will remind the world – including ourselves – how valuable every single “ordinary” Christian is to the work and witness of the church.