We did a couple of experiments in our congregation.
One was to give a group of people a bucket with holes in it and plugs to plug the holes. We discovered that:
· Everyone’s plugs were needed. Someone not contributing their plug meant that the bucket lost water.
· Everyone had a unique plug that would fit the right hole.
· Because every piece was needed, every piece was equal in value.
When we read 1 Corinthians 12, we read about all the members of the body doing their part. Often we think of the church has having a range of jobs and roles to do, and hope that we have enough people to do those jobs. It’s like the bucket with the holes to plug.
The passage does affirm that everyone is needed, everyone is unique and everyone is equal in value. If you’re part of the church, then you’ve got something to contribute.
However, the passage doesn’t just say we’re here to independently plug holes. We did a second experiment – a game of tug-of-war. The teams were uneven, two against four. We all looked at the size of the teams and guessed that the smaller team would lose. That’s sometimes how small congregations feel, right? “We’re too small to do all that we should.” But then, the team of four were told they needed to delegate out and be polite by taking turns – only one person could pull at a time, against the team of two. The result was that the small team that worked together blew the individualised large team out the water! What we discovered was that while the small, united team got the job done quickly and with joy and great success, the larger team that took turns said:
· I was in danger of being injured taking on all that responsibility.
· I was demoralised that no one would help me.
· I knew I was beaten before I even started.
· I saw the person who went before me have a rough time and I didn’t want to take the rope after her.
· I didn’t even get a chance to join in, because we lost and finished before I got a turn.
The passage about the body is not just saying we are parts that have a role to play, but that we are fundamentally connected and should behave so.
The Addams Family television show had the character of “Thing’, a dismembered hand that did lots of things around the house. Thing seemed pretty agile, but take the task of a hand opening a large heavy door without the leverage of an arm or the body weight behind a shoulder – those fingers and wrist would be broken!
What happens when you don’t use a hand in going through the door? A flat nose!
1 Corinthians 12 shows us a play about the body parts: "Because I'm not a hand I do not belong." We need to learn to believe that we are all needed. We need to learn to believe that we need each other, too. The eye might say to the hand "you don't need ME". This can mean that the hand is injured because you're not present and working together. We're not just lesser, we're endangering each other when we are not connected.
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