In the year 2000 or so, my daughter’s home school group presented a musical based upon 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul addresses the importance of all the parts of the body. This was when the Survivor show was very popular here in the US. According to Wikipedia, Survivor “places a group of strangers in an isolated location, where they must provide food, fire, and shelter for themselves. The contestants compete in challenges for rewards and immunity from elimination. The contestants are progressively eliminated from the game as they are voted out by their fellow contestants, until only one remains and is given the title of ‘Sole Survivor’ and is awarded the grand prize of US$1,000,000.”
The musical was to be a contrast to the survivor mentality being promoted in the television series. Rather than sending each other off the island, the characters had to work together. I remember the children singing, “Hey! I need you! Hey, Hey! You need me! There are many, many parts, but just one body!”
This is a great reminder of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 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.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 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, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
While this passage might be quite familiar to us, I want to draw your attention to two particular verses. The first is verse 15, where someone could tempted to say “I don’t belong to the body.” The second is verse 21, where someone could be tempted to tell another, “I don’t need you.” Paul corrects both wrong ways of thinking, reminding everyone that all who are in Christ belong.
How truly different is participation in the body of Christ from a sole survivor mentality. In Christ, a total group of strangers can join together in any location, where they will work together to serve Lord. Rather than compete against one another, they work with one another to spread the gospel and draw others into their fellowship. And in contrast to laying up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19), they “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
So if you are tempted to exclude yourself, you belong. And if you are tempted to exclude others, they belong. Hey! We need each other!
“If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in Glory” – Paul David Tripp (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands)