Monday, November 12

Equal concern

Scripture: Job 37-38, 1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12:24-25 Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25 so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.  

Observation

In this chapter on spiritual gifts, Paul likens the church to a human body: one body with many members, each making a unique contribution.  No one should compare themselves to others and think less of themselves: “I don’t belong.”  And no one should compare themselves to others and think too highly of themselves: “I don’t need you.”  Each member belongs and has something to offer, and each member needs the others.  No one is self-sufficient.  

Still using the body analogy, Paul teaches that some members are weaker, less presentable or less honorable.  But we give these greater honor, so that there would be no division in the body, and we’d have equal concern for one another.

Application

We naturally tend to rate people: more important, less important; more valuable, less valuable.  And of course, there is some truth to that.  I can live without my appendix, but not without my heart, lungs or brain!  In any organization, including churches, there are some people who are more valuable, more influential, harder to replace.  For example, I know a paster whose church was growing rapidly until their youth pastor left; since then, they’ve lost momentum and shrunk.  The youth pastor was an MVP for that church.  Some people are more valuable than others to a church’s well-being.  That’s one reality.

But it’s not the only way to measure value; there is another reality in Paul’s teaching here.  Every member is valuable and to be honored, and we’re not to let ourselves be divided into more/less valuable, but we’re to have equal concern for everyone.  This means showing just as much concern for the person who seems to do nothing as the person who does a lot, for the person who gives nothing as for the person who give a lot.  All of this is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.  We need to see the inherent worth of each person, even the “less honorable.”

Also, God uses the “less honorable” member to teach us all and bring us to maturity and greater depth of love.  This is one of the lessons of Henri Nouwen’s life, who left teaching at Harvard to live with the severely disabled at L’Arche.  He, the professor, went to learn from “the least of these.”  My son Jeff was on the autistic spectrum.  By most measures, he was the “least” in our family, but God used him to teach all of us how to love and have compassion.  Wherever I have pastored, we have had EGR’s (Extra Grace Required); I believe God sent them because He knew we needed them!  In some ways, these people are the MVP’s for they make all of us better.  

Jesus is our example. He consistently cared for outcasts, the marginalized, those that others disregarded as less valuable.  He calls us to do the same.  

Prayer: Lord, help me see the value in each person and treat them accordingly.  Help our church love and embrace and learn from the least of these.