Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
For the last several weeks, we have been inundated with media coverage of body parts. From suggestive photos texted to young women by a congressman to grisly discoveries of missing persons, parts of the human body have been the focus of our news. For most of us, these stories have been both disgusting and sad for a number of reasons. Many of us have thought “TMI” – Too Much Information –as we turned off our television, closed a news website, or put down the newspaper. Into this context today we bring the Apostle Paul’s famous discussion about the parts of the body he calls the Body of Christ. On this final Sunday of our Creation Season, I may surprise you in suggesting that Paul offers us a transformative word about what it really means to be part of the whole Body of Earth.
The church at Corinth was having difficulty. We don’t know the exact nature of the problem, but one can read between the lines that the possession and use of—and probably bragging about—spiritual gifts prompted Paul’s response in Chapter 12 of his first letter to this congregation. The Corinthians had a tendency to claim status for themselves, so earlier in the chapter Paul attempted to set them straight about how the Holy Spirit works and how the use of their gifts should function within their community. Paul Sampley, a New Testament scholar, suggests that Paul the Apostle is trying to reduce the Corinthians’ tendencies toward individualism by undercutting efforts to enhance the status of certain people in the church. So he reminds them that the purpose of any gift one is given by the Spirit is to serve the community – to seek the common good.