One Body – Many Members

For the body is not one member, but many.” I Corinthians 12:14

A body, says the dictionary, is the “main part, as distinguished from the limbs and the head; hence, the main, central, or principal part . . .” It is also “a unit formed of a number of persons or things; a collective whole.”

The Apostle Paul used that very familiar figure of the body to teach us some important truths about the Church, which is also described in the Bible as a body. That body, lhe Church, is indeed one, because it is the body of Christ, and by faith we are united to this one body. But the members of that body are many. And because they are many, they arc different, even as are the members of our physical body. And yet each member of that body is important to its total functioning. Anyone who has ever been deprived of the use of some member of his body knows about the handicap that results.

We have just entered into a new year. It will undoubtedly be a year of challenges and opportunities for the Church of Jesus Christ. The forces of darkness arc hard at work seeking to destroy the truth for which we stand. Though there are still old problems with which to struggle, there will also be new ones to confront. In the midst of much skepticism, there is a hope to be held out to mankind, because Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. The challenge to repent and believe must be heralded, and the lost sheep must he gathered into the fold of the Good Shepherd.

The ultimate success of the Church’s ministry does not depend upon man’s wisdom and ingenuity, of course, but upon the saving grace of God through the work of the Holy Spirit. But God uses instruments through whom to work His will and plan. And it is precisely at this point where Paul’s reference to the “one body—many members” truth is so vitally important.

At the beginning of a new calendar year, in many churches at least. the Consistory makes new appointments to a lot of committees and functionaries within the body. The newly elected office-bearers are installed into office. The various committees are revised with some new members added. And there is a tremendous variety of work to be done within the Church. Thank God, He has placed within His Church a wide variety of gifts and talents and abilities. The body is not just one member, but many. And each one is important to the total function of the body. There are no “inferior” or “superior” members in the Church, just those with differing gifts and talents. And it ought to be the supreme business of each Christian to determine before God what his or her abilities are, and then be willing to use them for the betterment of the whole body.

This is exactly what makes the body rich and beautiful, isn’t it? A painting is beautiful when it possesses a great variety of tint and form. It would hardly be beautiful if it were just of one color, no matter how brilliant that color may be. So too the Church is enriched by the diversity of conditions, age and ability of its members. Were the members all of the same age, condition and ability, the Church would be weak and stagnant.

So let the Consistory be much in prayer for direction as appointments to committees are made, that members may be chosen to serve, not because of popularity, but because of God-given abilities. Let no committee or function be thought to be so unimportant that it makes no difference who is appointed as long as the position is filled. The life and wellbeing of the body is at stake, and no Consistory can afford to take that lightly.

And let the members of the Church consider appointments carefully and prayerfully. Its easy to say “no” when asked to serve in some capacity, because of busy schedules, etc. No doubt, there are legitimate times to say “no.” But there are also legitimate times to say “yes,” times when it is both our privilege and our duty to answer the call to serve in some special capacity within the body, employing our gifts and talents for the benefit of all the members, and most of all for the glory of God. “For the body is not one member, but many.” And God has “tempered the body together . . . that the members should have the same care one for another.” Thus, with each member doing his part for the well-being of the whole body, we shall indeed have a “happy new year”!


I’ve been a dead weight many years, Around the church‘s neck. I’ve let the others carry me And always pay the check. I’ve had my name upon the rolls, For years and years gone by; I’ve criticized and grumbled too; Nothing could satisfy.

I’ve been a dead weight long enough Upon the church’s back; Beginning now, I’m going to take A wholly different track. I’m going to pray and play and work; And carry loads instead; And not have others carry me Like people do the dead.

‘Tis weak to fall beneath a blow, But weaker still to lie thus prone, And groan and groan and groan and groan, Till clamor makes the echoes crow.