If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. . (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV84)
I think there are two ways to look at this verse. The first is to view it with our local congregation in focus. The second is to view it with the global church in focus. Let’s look at the second view first. We Christians are so often trained to defend our denominational position against fellow Christians that we fail to work together in the one area we have in common–that being the Great Commission. We seem to be really good at using our spiritual armor against one another but fail to use it side by side against the enemy of the Church. In this respect, I feel that there are parts of the body that are suffering. And as Paul says, if one part suffers, every part suffers. Listen, I am not suggesting dissolving all the denominations. I am smart enough to know that the differences are significant, and Christians need to stay true to what they believe the Word of God teaches. I am all for some healthy debates over our doctrinal differences, but let’s reunite around the Great Commission. We need to gather together to reach the world around us. The Christian Church is growing like crazy in South America and Africa. The Christian Churches in those areas are united to reach the lost. Thousands a day are coming to faith and being won for the kingdom of God. We as a global church should be rejoicing for such growth in our day. We should do what we can to support the growth of the kingdom in those parts of the world through donation of money, time, and talents.
In our second view of this verse, we can apply its meaning to our local congregations. We need to look at our congregations for those parts of the ministry that are suffering and tend to their needs. Some churches need to put healing energy toward its Sunday schools and day schools. Others need to look at their body of elders and leaders and ask whether they have the right people in the right positions, and also, look to see if these men and women are getting the support they should get from the pastor and congregation. The point is that we need to address, not ignore, the hurting parts of our local ministries. Also, we need to celebrate and offer praise together for the successes that ministries within our congregations are having.
Let’s commit ourselves to the proper spiritual health of our local and global church.