Forum 2.2 - The Bible and Disability Ministry
" For just as the body is one and has many
members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is
with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or
Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
I think that this set of verses does well to give us insight that no matter who we are, we are all valued members of the body of Christ. I believe that the church is called to be accessible to all that want to learn and know of the “Good News” and that when a barrier is identified, efforts should be made to accommodate the need. In our own church, it was seen when the 100 year old floor of the sanctuary was replaced. While all the pews were out the end was removed from the isle side and the bench shortened by a couple of inches. This increased the width of the only isle up to the alter. The front pew on each side was shortened by half so that an area was created where wheel chairs or walkers could come if needed. The front porch and entry door were made level so that anyone with ambulation difficulties could enter the thresh hold without stumbling.
Definitely a primary text when considering how everyone has a role to play in the church and how we are all called to value our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
That Body of Christ imagery is such a useful description for so many different things. It's really brilliant, actually, once you start to think about just how many parts there are to a body outside of the obvious ones like hands and feet. What veins and blood vessels and and the different sorts of cellular tissue and joints and everything that is a part of the body and yet it ALL has an important function that we wouldn't want damaged or to do without!
And maybe the challenge is that the ear, which is good at hearing, does not "see" or know about the eye. Likewise, the eye does not "hear" the ear, and the hand, which grasps both, neither sees nor hears either. To say, our strengths indicate our weaknesses. Christ's diversity, as expressed in this passage, is something much bigger than can be grasped intellectually or sensibly comprehended. It seems that the contributions and struggles of people are often hidden from members of the same body or congregation. So, while a body's member relies on the functioning of many interrelated parts, it does so as part of a providence that grants and looks after the general health of the body, in which every member has a healthful part. The member's faith in its specialized work relies on faith in the God given integrity of the whole.
It would be interesting to square this body imagery with Matthew 5:30, where Jesus says, "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away." I'm pretty sure it's compatible, and that Jesus refers not to harmful people but to harmful behaviors.
I appreciate that take on the passage as well- If I am not a part of the whole, I do not receive a full blessing. I cannot be all things, but I can be a part of a full body. I can offer my gifts, my unique ability and be blessed by the gifts of others.