Servants together – Unity of the body of Jesus Christ

Servants together

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:27 NIV)

The world recognises the importance of coming together and corporations merge to try to make the most from the synergy of working together.

In chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle makes a similar call to the Corinthian church, where members were split in their allegiances to Paul, Apollos, Cephas and even Christ (vv.10–12). There was no lack of spiritual gifts in the Corinthian church but the fruit of the Holy Spirit was missing. Carnality caused disunity and growth was stunted.

Our common ground is Christ (1 Cor 12:27)

The word “body” is used 17 times in 1 Cor 12 to explain the nature and function of the Church. We not only belong to Christ but also belong to His body (v.1). All believers collectively form the body (v.12) and we are baptised into the body of Christ (v.13). There is therefore no place for individualism or independence.

We have one task—building His Church. It is a constructive, not destructive, work. There is a reality of functional differences based on the spiritual gifts given to individuals. But this should not pull us apart in different directions or separate us. Instead, the diversity should unite and bring the Church to a common ground for the common task of the glory of Christ, who is the head of the Church.

We are co-workers for Christ (1 Cor 12:21–26)

The problem with the Corinthian church was that they attached too much importance to some gifts and side-lined (minimised) others. Instead of contributing to the common good, some isolated themselves or tried to dominate over others on the basis of the gifts they possessed.

Building the Church is a collective, not individual, work. Let us remind ourselves that spiritual gifts are not evidence of spirituality or signs of significance. They are given for God’s service and are to be used for His Kingdom alone. We are not all the same, but all are important. In God’s orchestra, everyone—whether seen or unseen, heard or unheard—can make a difference.

We need to complement one another (1 Cor 12:28–31)

As members of Christ’s body, we are interdependent and need each other. God has distributed gifts and responsibilities in such a way that no-one has a monopoly. We need to exercise our spiritual gifts and function “for the profit of all” (v.7).

The formula for synergy is 1+1>2, and working together in unity produces better results. In the Church, members have their own roles and responsibilities. It is a complementary, not competitive, work. We, as Christ’s body, are to contribute to the cause of Christ. Complementing one another, we are to carry on His ministry in the world today.

Rev R Prabhu is the Pastor-in Charge of Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church.