“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?”
1 Corinthians 12.14-19
Those six verses are, of course, an extended metaphor for the church (“the body”) and her members (the body parts). Each member of the church is like a part of the human body – placed where it is, by God, for a specific reason, and with specific roles and purposes. Each member has a part to play – and is important! We, each of us, are like the hands, feet, eyes, and ears of Christ’s body.
Some members of the church, it’s true, may be a little more or less noticeable than others – just like certain body parts seem a little more or less prominent than others. Most of us probably think about our eyes more than our ears; our hands more than our feet. And so it may be in the church. Some of our roles are more or less public. And we may presume, then, that those roles which are less noticeable and less public are less important … and that perhaps no one will really notice or care if they are not fulfilled. Certainly no one will probably be any worse off, right?
But just think about your hands and feet for a moment. Unless you have problems with them, your feet may seem far less important than your hands. After all, your hands are used for a great many more things. Your hands have a great deal more motor skill than your feet. Indeed, you use your hands to put the shoes on your feet each day! Therefore hands may seem a great deal more important than feet. But let your feet become crippled; or let it be that you begin to have severe pain, or broken bones in your feet … and you will soon find that your hands suffer, too! Because many of the very tasks that seem so hand-oriented cannot be done if your feet cannot carry you to the jobsite, or stand up to do the work! And so, “If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any less a part of the body.”
So then ... feet cannot assume that they are unimportant just because they don’t do all the things that hands can do. And hands, conversely, cannot assume that feet are dispensable (see v.21)! And all of this is written, of course – not because Paul is interested in anatomy, but in the life of the church! Every member is important, he says – even those members that seem, at first glance, to be less essential! Every member of Christ’s body, just like the members of the human body, has a purpose … without which the rest of the body will function just a little less effectively!
If every church member were a teacher or preacher, who would take care of the finances? Who would care for the children? Who would welcome and show hospitality? And the list could go on! And if no one cared for the money, how would the preacher live? And if no one cared for the children, how would the parents be able to concentrate on his sermon? And if no one greeted, and welcomed, and cared for guests, how much smaller might be his congregation? And what would your preacher do without people praying for him?
O, how important each of you is to the health and well-being of your local church … and the advance of the gospel in your city! Do not sell yourself short by thinking that your role is unimportant. It is vitally so, even if it seems small to you … or goes unnoticed by others. God notices! And the church benefits, whether she realizes it or not! So play your part! Be the best eye, or ear, or foot, or hand, or toenail you can be!