Posted by: Philip Rushton | March 31, 2014

Because I am _________, I Do Not Belong: A modern paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 12

“15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. – 1 Corinthians 12:15-16

If the introvert should say, “I feel awkward at coffee hour and I am not very sociable, so I don’t belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the extravert should say, “I struggle to be contemplative and take time for silent reflection, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the deep thinker should say, “I wrestle with my faith and do not seem as confident in my beliefs as others, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the person who does not particularly care for deep theological conversations should say, “I don’t like Greek word studies, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the Democrat should say, “I don’t think everything in the Republican platform aligns with the teaching of Jesus, so I must not be part of the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the Republican should say, “I don’t think everything in the Democratic platform aligns with the teaching of Jesus, so I must not be part of the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the choir member from the traditional service should say, “I do not feel moved to raise my hands in worship while singing with a praise band, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the 25 year old guitar player should say, “I do not seem to connect with high church liturgy and organ music, so I don’t belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the pastor of a small parish should say, “I do not have the administrative gifts or capacity to grow a church to 10,000 people, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” If the executive pastor of a large church should say, “I do not have speaking gifts of the preaching pastor, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the single or divorced person should say, “I’m not able to go to the marriage seminar, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the married person should say, “I have to step back from ministry for a season so I can care for my family, so I must not be part of the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the adult small group leader at a church should say, “I can’t stand hanging out with middle schoolers, so I must not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the youth leader at the church should say, “I don’t volunteer at the local food bank, so I must not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the lay person should say, “I’m not a pastor or a missionary, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the pastor should say, “I hang out with church people too much and don’t have enough contact with the outside world, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the person with development disabilities should say, “I do not have the ability to understand complicated theological concepts, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the theology professor should say, “I am good at doing research but I am not very gifted in pastoral care, so I do not belong to the body,” they would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

“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? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-20

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Responses

  1. Excellent. Truth at it’s simplest.

  2. Gee–no wiggle room here–no escape clause in the contract–A fast ball pitch right dead center over home plate–OH WELL !!–I will just have to belong than. Henry

  3. Dead on my brother when we look at our own self esteem, On the flip side it’s not always us who say we aren’t welcome. It is so often implied by others that we don’t belong and shouldn’t be a part of the body. An unfortunate truth in ‘the church’ is a shame cycle for those who don’t do church the ‘right way’. We must always be aware to look for who isn’t there and make sure that we are offering an invitation to stand beside those who, for whatever reason, feel excluded.

    • Well said Char! I totally agree that there are both dynamics at work. Sometimes we tend to feel excluded based on our wounded self-esteem, but often others exclude us. In fact, sometimes our low self-esteem is the result of the wounds inflicted upon us by others.

      Paul picks up on this second dynamic later in the chapter when he talks about some parts of the body telling other parts that they are not needed.

      For some reason, though, this first part of the chapter stood out to me in a new way this week. I had never noticed the dynamic of self-exclusion.

      Either way, Paul suggests that our inclusion in God’s family is not contingent on how we evaluate ourselves or how others evaluate us. We will not, for any reason, stop being part of the body from God’s perspective! Thanks be to God!

      • Aww Paul! Always the progressive. 😉

  4. What a great perspective! I never saw it that way.


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