By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: 1 Corinthians 12:12-24
Many years ago, there was a mass-marketing push to get people to drink more milk. Part of the push contained an ad campaign with the catchy phrase, “Milk, it does a body good.” The obvious connotation was that drinking milk is good for the health of one’s body.
Of course, a popular metaphor in the Bible for the local New Testament church is that of the human body, with every member in the church contributing as they do their part. In our text for this week, the Apostle Paul uses this kind of language to remind a divided Corinthian church that their success as a congregation depended on their health, and that health is seen in their unity in diversity.
First, the local church is connected as one body in Christ. This is what we mean by being united as a body of believers. In other words, while a body may be comprised of many parts, they are all needed for the body to function as God designed. The same is true for every church. While it may have many members, those members must work together for the church to function properly and fulfill its God-given mission in the world.
Second, the local church is connected because every member is baptized by one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). Paul’s words do not speak of water baptism, or some extra dispensation of the Holy Spirit reserved for a select few.
Paul is reminding the Corinthian believers that they all had something in common: the Holy Spirit had spiritually baptized each of them into the body. In other words, the health of every church is increased as its members realize that the Spirit of God that formed the church now fills and equips its members for ministry.
Next, the local church is connected through their diversity in the body (vv. 14-17; 19-24). And while the most important characteristic of the church body is godly unity, diversity within that unity is an essential component. This is most likely where we get the phrase, “Unity through diversity.”
You see, unity in the church is not uniformity, or demanding that everyone “be the same.” Unity through diversity means, that every member knows that while others may not be like them, their part (ministry) is vital to the health of the church.
Remember, we are not unified through organizational methods, denominational mandates, or personal means, preferences, or choices. We are unified through our Lord Jesus who is the head of the local church. Colossians 1:18 says, “And He is the head of the body, the church … .”
Lastly, the local church is connected because every member is verified by God (I Corinthians 12:18). In other words, the Bible is saying that every follower of Christ is placed in a local church by the sovereign hand of God — at least that is the way it should work. Whatever church you are a part of today, God providentially “arranged” your placement, “just as He wanted.” Sadly, there are many discontented, disconnected, and dissatisfied church members not serving the Lord because they have forgotten this truth if they ever knew it.
Remember, the local church is not a parachurch organization where it specializes in one thing. It is a living, breathing organism that God wants to see working in concert fulfilling what it means to be a New Testament church in the world.