The Bible Says...

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Are you more of a hand, or a foot? Are you more of an ear, or an eye?

In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul helps the early Church see that there is unity in diversity. The Church has always been full of diverse people with different gifts—yet it’s also always been one Body. Some people are better at talking, some people are better at listening. Some people are better with their hands, some people are better with their feet. Regardless, all the different parts of a body are necessary. God works through the Church—his Body—as a whole.

Think about your own body. Which parts don’t you really need? Some of us have learned to get by without certain parts, but we typically don’t want to choose between our feet, hands, ears, or eyes. They’re all important! That’s what Paul is saying when he asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Corinthians 12:17).

If we want to learn something about being the Church from the New Testament, this is a great place to start. The Church is not made up of a bunch of clones. We’re not all the same, and we aren’t all called to do the same things. God has equipped his Body—the Church—with a great diversity of abilities. We can do different things—and that’s how a real body works.

The Apostle Paul is famous for his travels, evangelism, and writing letters that make up a large part of our New Testament. His role was so important, but there were plenty of other “body parts” in the Church then, too. In the early Church there was one couple, Priscilla and Aquila, who were a very different part of this early body.

Priscilla and Aquila pop up in four different New Testament books, even though we never really hear from them. We first hear about them in Acts 18:2. Paul meets them in Corinth, and since they were tentmakers, Paul stays with them and even starts working with them. Their part in the Body was giving Paul a house and a job!

They seem to have been pretty well off, and well-traveled! Later, when Paul writes to the church in Rome, he sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and the church that met in their house in Rome (16:5). They welcomed a church to meet in their house! A different role than Paul’s, but very important! They seem also, at one time, to have had a house in Ephesus, as Paul, writing from Ephesus, sends greetings to the Corinthians from the church that meets in Prisilla and Aquila’s home. As God was working through Paul to preach the Word, he was also working through Priscilla and Aquila to give people jobs and provide places for house-churches to gather.

As you think about yourself, remember that you’re a part of the Body.

Are you skilled at public speaking? That’s an important role in Christ’s Body.

Are you great at bringing comfort? That’s an important role in Christ’s Body.

Are you a hard worker, but prefer to work with your hands? That’s an important role in Christ’s Body too.

We can learn from the early Church that there’s unity in diversity.

So, ignore the temptation to think less of yourself if you aren’t called to the role somebody else has. And ignore the temptation to go off and do your own thing. God has called all the parts to live in the one Body. He can use all our gifts together, and he doesn’t want to choose between us! God loves every one of us.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
DANIEL BERGE is Professor of New Testament at Lutheran Brethren Seminary, Fergus Falls, MN.

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