Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink.
For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. If the foot were to say, “Because I am not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” that would not keep it from being a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, “Because I am not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” that would not keep it from being a part of the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how could it hear? And if it were only an ear, how could it smell? As it is, however, God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be. There would not be a body if it were all only one part! As it is, there are many parts but one body.
So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Nor can the head say to the feet, “Well, I don’t need you!” On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker; and those parts that we think aren’t worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don’t look very nice are treated with special modesty, which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honour to those parts that need it. And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness.
All of you are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12 v 12 – 27
When was the last time you thought or said “I don’t need you!”? We all like to think of ourselves as self sufficient and able to function independently and sometimes, having others involved in our lives makes things more frustrating and complicated. However, during the days of Covid-19, one of the biggest lessons we have learned as a society is that we all need each other. There are a lot of things that we can do ourselves and we can survive for a long time on our own but the experience of lockdown has shown us that this is just surviving and not necessarily thriving.
Social psychologists beginning to look at the impact of lockdown on individuals in our society have begun to notice 2 groups of people emerging in their research. Both groups, it has to be said, have been equally impacted by the loneliness, disconnectedness and isolation of lockdown but one group has held on to a more positive hope throughout it all. The first group of people could be defined as those who see themselves as “I” all the time. “I” have got my shopping ordered and delivered”. “I” am working from home. “I” am reading all the books and watching all the boxsets I’ve never got round to before. This group have been found to tire more quickly of these routines and have felt the sense of isolation much more keenly than the second group. The second group could be defined as the “we” group. These are the people who feel they belong to a group: to a family or a club or a church. These people have spoken throughout this experience in a collective way: “we” are in this together, “we” are being creative about how to do our schooling, our worship online, “we” are meeting up on zoom each week to talk about the next steps in adjusting and adapting.
Being part of a group brings a collective power that brings resilience. This is what it means to really harness the power of the saying “you’re not alone”. If you truly believe that, then you cope better with all the changes and challenges around you. Social psychologists are saying this now but many centuries ago Paul wrote about this in the New Testament in his well known words (above) about one body, many parts. It’s a beautiful metaphor about the body not being a body if it were only one part and it speaks to all the alienating parts of our society where people often feel excluded because they feel less important or ashamed or embarrassed or that they don’t have as much to contribute. Paul reassures us that if you believe you are important to God, then you are as much as part of the body as anyone else. There is collective power available for every person who says I am part of the “we”. So no one is forgotten about or left behind: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness. All of you are Christ’s body, and each one is a part of it.”
This week’s prayer:
Give thanks for the body you belong to. Remember some of those in that body that you have not thought about for a while in prayer.
This week’s music: