Everybody in the Body is Somebody

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  12 : 12-27
Subject: Church Life; Christian Living; Importance, Your; Body, The Church

My favorite restaurant in Chattanooga is a little place on Main St. called Griffin’s Famous Foot Longs. It’s a hot dog place, and what it lacks in class and décor, it makes up for in the food it serves.Being a frequent patron of that fine establishment, I have had the occasion to notice that across the street from Griffin’s, there is a little, storefront church by the name of First Corinthian Baptist Church.Every time I see it, I can’t help but shake my head and smile a bit. If you are going to name your church after a church in the New Testament, I’m not sure the church at Corinth is the best choice.

The Corinthian church had a lot of issues. Some of their problems stemmed from the culture in which they lived, but most of their problems were just the result of spiritual immaturity. One of the major issues in the church was divisions and rifts among the membership, and one of those divisions had to do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

When a person is saved, they are given a specific spiritual gift by the power of the Holy Ghost. Those gifts are supposed to be used by each one for the blessing and benefit of everyone. But in Corinth, some of those who had what they considered to be lesser gifts were a little jealous of those who had what they thought were the more visible and prominent gifts. Likewise, some of those with the more flashy and “out-front” gifts tended to look down on those with the more “behind-the-scenes” gifts.

In I Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul spoke to that fractured fellowship about the fact that there really were no big “I’s” and little “you’s”, no little “me’s” and big “thee’s”, in their church family. To do this, Paul used the illustration of a human body, and applied it to the mystical, spiritual body of Christ, which is His church.

In the end, Paul’s goal for that church, and for all the churches that would later read this letter, is that within the church body, “…the members should have the same care one for another.”

What we learn in this text is that everybody in the body is somebody. In the life and work of the church, you matter and I matter, and therefore we should all matter to one another.

Think through this passage with me as the Spirit of God speaks to us about our roles and relationships within the body of Christ. For one thing, we learn here that:


In our country, there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the “1%”, the shrinking middle class, and the poor. Like it or not, at least economically, there are different classes in our country. But in the church, the gospel erases all classes: economic, ethnic, and social. We are made up of all sorts of different people, but we are nonetheless one people. That is what Paul explains in verse 12, and then in verse 13, he says this: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

In other words, when each of us were saved by God’s Grace, the same Holy Spirit birthed us all into the family of God and then came to live inside all of us. The ground is not only level at the foot of the cross; it is level within the family of the church. But while we are all equal members of the same body, we don’t all have the same gifts and do the same things within the body.

Some of us have more prominent roles and more public gifts than others do. Because of that, someone who has less-visible gifts may think they are not important. They are absolutely wrong.

No one should think they are insignificant in the body. That is what Paul tried to stress to the Corinthians in this passage. Notice what he said. For one thing, we see that:

A. You have a viable place in this body

Using the illustration of a physical body, notice what Paul said in verse 1. “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?” Continuing the same illustration, he said in verse 16, “And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?”

In this colorful illustration, Paul imagines a foot looking up at a hand and saying to itself, “I’m all the way down here on the ground, covered up by socks and shoes. That hand is up there touching stuff and turning stuff. I’m not really a part of the action. I’m not really a part of what is going on.” Likewise, the ear says, “All I do is hear sounds. The eye is looking around and seeing colors and lights. Everybody looks right at him, and they don’t even look at me, even when they’re talking to me. I’m not really a part of this body.” Of course, we recognize that despite the foot’s and the ear’s low self-esteem, they are very much still a part of the body, even if they pout and protest that they are not.

Likewise, someone in the church, whose gift is something like service, or giving, or intercessory prayer, might say one Sunday, “You know what, I don’t ever get on the platform. I’m not on any committees, and nobody really knows me. Truth is; I’m not even really a part of this church. I don’t even matter around here.”

In reality, even if you tell yourself that, it’s not true. God has placed you in this body, gifted you uniquely for the needs of this body, and no amount of self-pity can change the fact that you are a viable part of this body.

Moreover, Paul makes it clear here that none of us should feel insignificant in the church, not only because you have a viable place in this body, but also because:

B. You have a valuable place in this body

Look at verse 1. This is such a great question! Keeping with the illustration, Paul asks, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole body were hearing, where were the smelling?” The point is clear. If the body were just an eye, it could not function. If it were only an ear, it could not exist and live. Each part of the body is important and valuable to the life of the body.

I love the way Warren Wiersbe speaks to this point. He said, “The body needs different functions if it is to live…I suppose I could learn to walk on my hands, but I prefer to use my feet…The ear cannot see and the eye cannot hear, yet each organ has an important ministry. And have you ever tried to smell through your ears?”[1]

Someone in this church may think to themselves, “I cannot preach the like that pastor, I cannot sing like that sister, and I cannot deacon like Bro. Dennis. I must not be all that important.” Or perhaps you say something like this: “Why didn’t God make me more like him, or her? Why don’t I have the kinds of gifts they do?” The reality is that your complaints of insignificance or inadequacy are not just toward the body around you; they are actually directed toward the God above you.

Notice what verse 18 says. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”

Where and how you fit into this body of believers is not ultimately a matter of personality or church politics. It is a matter of divine providence. God made you, saved you, and then uniquely gifted you for a specific function and purpose in this church. When you are not satisfied with your place in the body, you are actually not satisfied with God’s grace in your life.

Understand, though you may wrestle with who you are and where you fit into God’s plan, He has made each of you wisely and wonderfully, and no one should feel insignificant in the body.

Looking on in this text, we find secondly that:


On the one hand in Corinth, you had some folks who didn’t think enough of themselves. But on the other hand, you had some folks in the church there that probably thought too much of themselves.

Paul had a word for them too. In verse 20, he restates his overall point. He said, “But now are they many members, yet but one body.” Having reloaded his gun, Paul then took a loving shot at those who thought their spiritual gifts were the only ones that mattered.

Notice what he said to this group. He pointed out to them that:

A. Apart from the work of others, you are helpless

Notice verse 2. Going back to the body illustration, Paul wrote, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” No more than the first group could say, “We are not needed,” could the second group say, “We don’t need you.” The eye can’t look down at the hand and say, “I see it just fine. I don’t need you to grab it and get it for me.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I know where I need to go, and I will get there without you.” That is foolishness!

Likewise, in a church, those people who lead and stand in front of the body are foolish to think that those who stand behind them are not important to them, or necessary to the work God has called all of them to do.

Paul illustrates this further in verse 2. He said, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:” In other words, those folks who are not as visible may be more vital to the health and life of the body than those that are always out front.”

Think about it this way: Inside your chest beats your heart. Your heart cannot survive outside your body, and it wasn’t meant to. It was meant to be hidden inside your body, guarded and protected by skin and bones. And yet, while you might survive having your nose cut off, you would not make it with your heart cut out. Do you see the point the Spirit of God is making here?

I must know as a pastor that while I am out front every Sunday, preaching the sermon and leading the service, the real heartbeat of the church may be some dear, senior saint of God whose prayers are the only thing making any sense out of my sermon as it reaches the ears of the congregation. Preachers are a dime a dozen, but prayer warriors are like hearts and lungs – few and precious, and we would not survive without them.

Paul wants us to see that apart from the work of others in the church, you are helpless. Along that same line, he also points out that:

B. Aware of the worth of others, you are humble

Once a prominent leader or worker in the church sees how valuable the less-visible members are, it affects how we treat them. Rather than ignoring them, because we think they are just bat boys, and we are the sluggers, we start to care for them and humbly serve them.

Look at verse 2. Listen carefully. It says, “And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.”

There are parts of our bodies that everybody sees, and then there are parts of our bodies that are not for everyone to see. It is not that they are not important, but rather that what they do is more valuable than how they look.

John MacArthur makes the application very clear. He said, “Every sensible person is more concerned with his heart than his hair.”[2] (italics mine)

Should we comb our hair? If you have it, yes you should. But we all know that the arm that picks up the brush, and the heart that pumps the blood to that arm are more important to your life than the way you part your hair or how you style it.

I know I need to preach the Word of God on Sunday. I need to do it correctly, clearly, and consistently. But I also know that there is a nursery worker right now who is holding a baby so that a mother can be here to hear the message I preach. I know there are people here today listening, not because I am so dynamic, but because some Sunday school teacher called them this week and checked on them, and encouraged them to be here. Do you need a pastor? Yes! But a pastor needs you just as badly as you need him. We need one another, and we cannot survive apart from one another.

Which leads us to a third truth we find in this passage. The Scripture reminds us not only that no one should feel insignificant in the body, and no one should feel independent from the body, but lastly we see here that:


I need you and you need me, and we all need each other. A body needs an eye, but it also needs an ear, and both the eye and ear need a heart.

God has made us who we are and what we are in the church, so that in our diversity there is the necessity for each other.

Understanding that truth, you and I had better care about one another and be careful with one another. No more than you can afford to lose an arm, an eye, or a lung, can we afford to be divided and separated from one another.

Notice what the Word of God says about this. For one thing we find here:

A. How we must look at one another

God, in His sovereign wisdom has made us who we are, and placed us where we need to be within His body. And he did it, Paul says in verse 25, not so we would fight about who is better and who is most valuable, but so that there would be “no schism” in the body. Rather than chopping ourselves up into pieces and arguing about which one is most needed, we as members of this church ought to “…have the same care one for another.”

Notice that word “care” in verse 2. It is translated from a word that speaks of anxiousness. In this verse it has the idea of concern for one another. We ought to be as concerned for the fellow who turns the microphone up in the sound booth as we are for the one who sings into it on the stage. We ought to see as much value in the one teaching the little class of RA’s on Wednesday night, as we do the one teaching the big adult class on Sunday morning. We ought to care as much for the children’s worker as we do the chairman of the deacons - as much for the lady who fixes food for the funerals as we do the finance committee that forms the budget.

This is how we must look at one another, which will lead then to:

B. How we must live with one another

If we see the value in every part of our body, and we look after the more private workers as much as we do the more prominent ones, then we will be more than just an organization; we will be an organism – the living, Spirit-filled body of Christ.

And what will that look like? Notice verse 2. “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”

Rather than cliques and competing groups, when everybody in the body is somebody, we will all weep with those who weep, and we will all rejoice with those who rejoice. When a brother falls, we will fall down to our knees with him. When a sister succeeds, we will cheer her victory knowing, it is a victory for us all.

I know it’s a flawed illustration, but we ought to be like a good baseball team. If someone hits the game winning, walk-off home run, the whole team ought to be out by the plate, jumping up and down, waiting to greet them when they reach home. Likewise, if one of our members gets attacked on the field, the bench ought to clear as we go out to fight for them.

We may be many members, but we are one body, and when a tear comes to the eye of the body, the hand ought to be there to wipe it away. When the mouth says something worthy and good, the heart ought to leap with joy at the truth of what has been said.


With that in mind, let us close by remembering just whose body we are. Look at verse 2It says, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” Think about that phrase, “the body of Christ.” Now, it speaks of you and me as the church, but there was a time when there was a literal, physical body of Jesus. He was born into this world through the womb of a virgin, and He lived among us in a real, live, breathing body. That precious body was the perfect body. I don’t mean that it was physically perfect. It was spiritually perfect! The eyes of Jesus always looked on the world with the compassion of God. The heart of Jesus always moved through the world with the love of God. The hands of Jesus touched and healed by the power of God. The feet of Jesus always walked in the will of God, including the day he walked up to a shameful, sin-cursed, and soon-to-be, blood-soaked cross. There, the Lord Jesus laid down His sinless body on a tree, and shed His sinless blood for the sake of sinners like you and me.

He then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Now, because of what He did in His earthly body, you and I have the privilege – the undeserved and unparalleled privilege – to be His spiritual body on this earth.

We have different roles and responsibilities in His body, but we all have the same living Head! Jesus is the Head of His body, and we are all tied together by His lordship over us.

Look around you! One is an eye, and one is hand, and one is a foot, but the whole body has been washed in the same blood, and saved by the same Lord.

Everybody in the body is somebody, and the only One that should have the preeminence is the One who saved us all. To Him be glory in His body, both now and forever, Amen!

[1] Wiersbe, Warren, Be Wise, (Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1989), p. 127

[2] MacArthur, John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: I Corinthians, (Moody Press, Chicago, 1984), p.