Attend any rodeo with riding and roping competition and you’ll see them—competitors with four fingers on one hand and a nub where their thumb should be. It’s a common injury in the sport—a thumb gets caught between a rope on one end and a decent-sized steer pulling on the other, and the thumb is usually the loser. It’s not a career-ending injury, but the absence of a thumb changes things. Without using your thumb, try to brush your teeth or button a shirt or comb your hair or tie your shoes or even eat. That little overlooked member of your body plays a significant role.
The apostle Paul indicates a similar scenario in the church. Those often less visible and frequently less vocal members sometimes experience an “I don’t need you” response from the others (1 Corinthians 12:21). Usually this is unspoken, but there are times when it’s said aloud.
God calls us to have equal concern and respect for one another (v. 25). Each and every one of us is a part of Christ’s body (v. 27), regardless of the gifting we’ve received, and we need each other. Some of us are eyes and ears, so to speak, and some of us are thumbs. But each of us plays a vital role in the body of Christ, sometimes more than meets the eye.
Father, forgive us for our failure to remember that each of us is a member of the body of Christ. We’re the members, and You and You alone are the Head.
In Paul’s first New Testament letter to the Corinthians, he describes two ways his readers have been overlooking the body of Christ. First, they were ignoring the significance of sharing bread and wine in remembrance of His shed blood and broken body (1 Corinthians 11:29). In the process, they were also failing to live for the good of one another. Paul went on to explain that by the Holy Spirit they had been gifted to work together, just as members of our human bodies help and depend on each other (12:12–27). Paul sees his readers as members of the body of Christ brought together to share the heart of love He describes in chapter 13.