The other night, in the middle of the night, Tijge came to lay by us. He kept tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable—until, that is, he found a cushiony spot on my not-so-flat-anymore belly. Always a source of insecurity for me, I’m ever conscious that my abs aren’t as tight or flat as they once were, let alone as much so as I’d love for them to be.
Lying there with Tijge, though, I was reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12:18 and following. In that passage, he compared the Body of Christ to the human body, in which every part has an indispensable purpose (except for the appendix, perhaps). Specifically, he spoke of parts that were weaker, less honorable, and unpresentable.
I know what you’re thinking—Paul’s point was about fulfilling our role and calling within the Body of Christ. But, if the purpose of an analogy is to use something well understood to shed light on something less well understood, that suggests that the Christians in Paul’s day had a better grasp on the value and the function of the human body than we do now. We may know more about disease, diet, and exercise than they did. But we don’t see our bodies for either their God-ordained purposes or their inherent worth. Sometimes the parts of our physical bodies are called upon to serve painful, mundane, or seemingly undignified purposes. And then sometimes, they are called upon to serve as a pillow to cushion the head of a beautiful and perfect 3-year-old boy. And oh, how I cherish those times—and the “squishy parts” that make those memories possible.
1 Corinthians 12:18-27
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them,
just as he wanted them to be.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
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!”
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
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,
while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
so that there should be no division in the body,
but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.