Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Epiphany 3c - 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Maybe Paul never looked into a mirror that wasn’t dim because although the nose might be necessary, more often than not the eyes think it’s too big. Truth is most people can find fault with one body part or another and wish the weaker parts could be dispensed of more easily. And on the flip side thinking of oneself as Adonis means Narcissus is not far behind. It may be that judging oneself either too harshly or inaccurately is where mistreatment of the body begins and why these words of Paul have too often fallen on deaf ears. When we cannot recognize our own worth we are blind to the worth of others. But if I see myself through the eyes of Christ as worthy of God’s affection and choose to live into that identity then I believe it becomes more difficult to deny others the same honor. And so each member values the other because each member is valued by Christ. And to dishonor the other, to think or speak ill of them, to plot and plan and even pray for their downfall is to scorn Christ himself. In the end it is God who is grieved and injured when the body behaves badly towards itself. But it was the grief of God over a creation gone horribly wrong that led Christ to the cross. In love that is the still more excellent way his body was broken to make ours whole and his death is our life. So treat yourself well today for your body belongs to Christ. And remember that the body part that had the nerve to sit in your seat last Sunday is dear to the heart of Christ as well.


  1. Hey, hey. Brad again. Isn't Paul's premise more on the interdependence and egalitarian structure (i.e. socialism) of the Christ Commune-ity rather than a preoccupation of self worth? Probably both/and. Just a thought.

  2. Of course you are right that Paul is not thinking about self worth but I don’t think it’s about egalitarian structure either. He has a congregation that is hopelessly conflicted and he uses the image of the parts of the body to try to get them to see beyond the divisions of I belong to Apollos, Cephas, Paul, or Christ. What I’m suggesting is that the ability to love or accept self relates to our ability to love others.

  3. Good point. However the context of Paul's letter suggest rather strongly that there were elitist who thought they were better than others ("divisions" as you say) and thought their gifts were superior, or they did not need to wait to eat with "others" regarding The Lord's Supper. Paul makes it clear that it is the inferior/least among you who is to be honored! Hence the egalitarian aspect. ALL gifts, ALL people in the body are to be honored, not just a few, especially, maybe, those with MASTER OF DIVINITY (a rather presumptuous title perhaps?!) hanging on their wall! Yes, love is key, but it is a Hebraic love of wholeness (i.e. body) and justice. Jesus, of course, speaks of that as THE commandment (God, other, self love) upon which all others hang. Again, a Jewish understanding of mercy and justice agape, not the warm fuzzy of today's world.