Friday, April 22, 2011
The God Who Moves Through His Body In A Myriad Of Ways (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)
You can literally fly through the human body and every part becomes visible. It’s a great tool for the study and understanding of the human body and for medical research and training. It makes for some far out amazing images and computer graphics as well.
However there have been quite a lot of criticisms of the project. It started first with the man’s body and it was open to the criticism that it was not right that a man’s body should be seen as the normal human body. So they added a women to the project. Both bodies had come from convicted killers who had been executed, the bodies were then healthy but there was some question as to whether they could be seen as normative. There were other issues as well. While they were as close to a living human being as we have been able to get they were still without life. They couldn’t show how each body part functioned and how it worked together. It was a dead body and none of the parts worked.
Then like you are able to fly through the body like you can with the visible human project, he takes us on another highlight tour of the body of Christ to illustrate his point and bring it home.
Apostles, prophets and teachers
He says that there are people who have roles in the church Apostles, prophets and teachers who are a gift to the whole body and that the body needs to function properly. Some people have wanted to see a hierarchy of gifts built into this list that the word first, second and third implies importance. But apart from the fact that the gifts appear in different orders in different lists it is probably better to see that these first three have a particular role within the church that seems to follow on from each other. The planter of the church, the one who takes the word and make it timely and the one who then fleshes out our understanding and helps us to apply and live out the word in our lives. They are ways that God chooses to speak through and to his people, initially and authoritatively , timely and systematically.
Miracles and gifts of healing
Then we have miracles and gifts of healing. Not only does God want to speak through and to his people he wants to move and minister through us as well. We often read through the gospel narratives and the book of acts with some sort of twenty first century scepticism to the miracle and healing stories, but the body of Christ is just that the hands and fett of Jesus to do the things Jesus did. While we were in Dunedin An evangelist from the fledgling church in Mongolia came and spoke to us and it was amazing to hear the story of whole villages coming to know Jesus, he told some stories of miracles and healing but not many. Ray Coster who was travelling with him said he tried to get his guest to tell more stories of the miraculous things God was doing and the healings but his friend was reluctant his reply was well New Zealand is such a Christian country that he expected such things to be common place here and that we would think such stories passé. Maybe as a church in the west we have become reliant on our own means and our own wealth and we have stopped needing the spirit to move in such ways in our midst. Almost like we have allowed that part of our body to stop functioning.
Helps and guidance
Then we have the gift of helps and guidance, we don’t have a great understanding of what is meant by these gifts. In some translation guidance is interpreted administration, but seems to have in mind more the ability to give good guidance and wise counsel to the body of Christ for it to function properly. For the church as the body to run smoothly the spirit gives these gifts as well. Up front and behind the scenes it God working by his Spirit in and through his people.
Speaking in tongues
Speaking in tongues again comes last in this list Paul has tipped the emphasis of the Corinthians on its head to emphasis his point that there is a diversity in the uses of the gifts, he is not writing this one off or putting in down simply placing it alongside the other gifts not in prominence. Its a way of correcting their thinking.
He then reinforces the idea of diversity in unity and our interdependence on each other by asking the questions are all prophets or teachers do all speak in tongues do all interpret? The expected answer of course is no, no it’s not about uniformity of manifestations but about diversity and interdependence.
We are the body of Christ, the spirit dwells within us. The spirit calls us to love one another and in that love to use the gifts of the Spirit to serve one another and the witness to Jesus Christ.