Paul emphasizes the importance of each individual member. Each member has a necessary function (see vs. 12-24). “For the body is not one member, but many.” Every member is necessary to complete the operation of the body. Although our own individual function may seem less glamorous or outstanding (“seemly”) than others, our function is no less vital to the health of the body than that of the most prominent member. Besides, God has arranged it in such a way that each member will eventually receive equal honor.
But we must discourage the opposite feeling in ourselves as well. If our particular function is more prominent and comes more often into public view, we need to guard against the idea that less visible, less prominent members are less important, or less necessary than we are! In our physical bodies, many of the joints and most of the vital organs are hidden from view. This is less true in Christ’s body. This is one reason why Paul affirms that when we measure ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves with ourselves, we are without understanding (see 2 Cor. 10:12).
Along with this idea, Paul teaches that there is a diversity of function among the members of the body. Each member plays a different role. Because of this, it is unwise to look at other members to understand our own function. Our function will exhibit a different ability and emphasis, but this should not cause us envy, discouragement, or insecurity. Our desire as an ear shouldn’t be to have vision, but rather a very keen sense of hearing.
Although diverse, the various parts of the body are in perfect arrangement because God has placed them as He has wished (v.18). A problem which has resulted from the human organization in churches is many people have been put into positions where they are expected to function as God has never intended. Because a man serves well as a deacon doesn’t necessarily imply that he will do well as an elder. A prophet shouldn’t be expected to function in the role of a pastor, with the same aptitude.
The rule of thumb which applies to all members is to “wait on our ministry.” We should all reemphasize the basics of our life in Christ – fellowship, prayer, meditation, communion with God in the Spirit – and wait to see the particular ability and function which manifests itself in us as a result. This ability will possess a specific emphasis and quality. As soon as you determine what this function is, give yourself wholly to it so it will develop as much as possible.
A word of caution here -You should determine your function only with the feedback of the body as a whole. You may think that grace has been given to you as apostle, but then find yourself being received as a pastor by the people. Likely, the chances are that your apostolic aspiration may be somewhat unwarranted.
Paul further points out that all the members depend on one another. What good is a hand without a wrist, a foot without an ankle, a circulatory system without a heart? The common idea of “just Jesus and me” should give way as we realize that Jesus lives in all of our brothers and sisters collectively, as well as individually. We need everyone else in the body if we are going to make it to completeness! “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?”
OUR FUNCTION IN THE BODY
Returning to the allegory of the human body, we can glean further understanding as it applies to our function in the body: If a part, or member, of our body is not functioning properly, it is either malfunctioning or not functioning at all. A member at rest is functioning properly unless it is resting at a time it is being called upon to work. In this case, it is malfunctioning! Either our members are functioning properly, functioning improperly (malfunctioning), or not functioning at all. There are no other alternatives!