John 13 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
He describes it as a new commandment. Love, of course, is essential in many parts of the Old Testament. The book Leviticus commanded the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves. But the newness isn’t so much a matter of never having heard words like this before. It’s a matter of the mold of this love, the depth and type of this love: love one another in the same way that I have loved you.
It has been hard for the disciples up to this point even to appreciate what Jesus has been doing on their behalf; now he’s telling to copy him! As with the footwashing, they are to look back at his whole life, his whole way and manner of life, and find in it a pattern, an example, a power. To wash someone else’s feet, you have to think of yourself as only a slave. That, as we saw, can feed all the wrong kind of thinking: it can produce a sort of inverted pride, a pride at one’s own humility. But with love there’s no danger of that. Love is all about the other person. It overflows into service, not in order to show off how hard-working it is, but because that is its natural form. This is the badge that the Christian community wears before the watching world. [N.T Wright, John for Everyone, p.56]
Today, let’s pray for the harvest that is always before us, as you listen and worship with the song Mission’s Flame(click here) by Matt Redman.
1 Corinthians 12 But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
He envisions not just the tolerance of differences within the community but a gracious and compassionate synergy in which all the members share one another’s sorrows and joys. Here again the body metaphor serves his hortatory purpose well; everyone knows a pain in the ankle or finger can absorb the entire body’s energy and attention. That, Paul contends, is how things are in the church. He does not speak of what should be, but of what is: The body really is diminished and pained by the suffering of any of its members. The same principle applies also to the honor shown anyone member: the body really does celebrate it together. In view of the way Paul has spoken of giving honor to “the inferior member” in verses 23– 24, the last sentence of this unit should also be read as an implicit exhortation: The more obviously honored members of the church should rejoice in showing honor to the less honorable. [Hays, Interpretation of 1 Corinthians, 216]
Today let’s share in one another’s joys and sorrows. Let’s pray for specific individuals within your ministry group that you sense are in need of the Spirit’s presence and healing. Listen and worship and pray with the song “I am not alone” (click here) by Kari Jobe.
1 Corinthians 12 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
In this section on verses 21-26, Paul uses the metaphor of one body part lessening the value of another. Now this is a whole-body brawl going on here—where the eye now fights with the hand—and the feet and head are now going at it—saying ‘I don’t need you!’.
This was to analogize the deep issues within this church, where the Corinthians really didn’t understand nor embrace the need of one another. Some wondered what the value and purpose was for the weaker/poorer/struggling brothers and sisters. What they failed to recognize however, is that to care for one another was to care for their very body. Paul makes the point that in the body of Christ, the Spirit given wisdom is to view the lesser/weaker/hidden members as the indispensable ones, given special honor, and to be treated with special modesty. For this is our Lord’s heart—the father to the fatherless, and the defender of widows. Therefore, to not care for one another, is to be sick and not healthy as a body, and to be out of sync with God’s very heart.
Today, let’s embrace the reality that we are the body of Christ, and each member is indispensable. Spend time praying for God’s strength and covering over our churches and ministry groups.
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. 17 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.
In verses 15-20, Paul is dealing with potential issues in the body of Christ, namely with the issue of belonging. Paul utilizes ridiculous scenarios in verses 15-17 to make the point in verse 18, that “the body is formed by God’s own design ‘in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be’ (v18). The emphasis is upon the fact that each member is there by divine placement.” [Fee, NICNT 1 Corinthians, page 677].
Paul uses this metaphor to show how ridiculous and out of place it is to disqualify oneself because we are comparing ourselves to one another!
And the deeper reality is that just because we take ourselves out, Paul says that it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. So, it would be like the ‘ear’ disengaging and not functioning by saying—I am not as important as the eye, so I am out of here! Yet the ear will not stop being part of the body, but it does mean that the body will suffer hearing loss. Today, let’s love the body and be fully functioning and growing members.
Let’s be encouraged to fully belong to the body of Christ, as He has made each member indispensable to the body. Today as you worship with the song “Ready for You”(click here), pray for your ministry group.
1 Corinthians 12 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
In this section of chapter 12, Paul is giving the foundational reality of being the Spirit people—the Church. Where due to “the result of that immersion in the Spirit is that all have been made one. They have come from very different ethnic and social backgrounds—Jews and Greeks, slaves and free—but they have been bonded together by the Spirit into one body. Consequently, the old markers of identity should no longer divide the community. This is a fundamental aspect of Paul’s teaching about the church” [Hays, Interpretation, page 214].
Through this section, Paul is giving a beautiful imagery of the vision of Christ’s church—of its unity within its diversity. It is interesting to note that verse 12 ends with ‘so it is with Christ’, instead of ‘so it is with the church’. Hays furthers this point by saying that the rendering of this verse is to emphasize that the many members of the church are to be identified directly with Christ [Hays, Interpretation, page 212]. Hence, in the life of the church, there is a new reality and kingdom life that is not based upon worldly wisdom, expectations, interactions, and divisions. Each member is connected with Christ and given gifts by the Spirit, and in this diversity, there is unity of being bound together to become one body—the church. And in the church, there is to be a new belonging, interactions, giftings—all for the sake of becoming one in Christ.
Today spend time in prayer, thanking the Lord that we now belong to Him and to His people, as you worship with the song ‘Belong’ (click here).