The letter must have been stamped urgent in red, delivered in haste across the Agean Sea.  Paul was now in Ephesus, just a few years removed from starting the church in Corinth, when word arrived.  Pastor Paul, they must have inquired, is the Lord’s Supper an invitation only dinner or a banquet for all?  Pastor Paul, some say that if the husband is the head of household, should the wife then remain behind the veil?  Pastor Paul, Jesus may have risen on the third day, but does that mean we too will be resurrected from the grave?


1 Corinthians is Paul’s pastoral response to the congregation’s questions, answers to a church in conflict, not with neighboring Jews or pagans, but with itself.  Most disturbing, Paul spends two chapters, twelve and thirteen, dealing with the struggle of hierarchy, the superiority of one over and against inferiority of another.


What does Paul want the Church to remember?


1 Corinthians 12:3-13 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 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 the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.


Congregational Responses:

That all gifts are worthy, printing the bulletins is every bit as important as preaching the sermons.

God, beginning with the Trinity, intends diversity.

Church is the place where we come to be with people unlike us.

Spiritual gifts are only spiritual if they support the common good rather than the inflated ego.


Classical literature, Greek philosophy and Roman domination all invoked the same metaphor: the system is organized by rank, the Emperor is esteemed over the employee, the community is a body of unequal parts.


The Corinthians had become a reflection of their culture, forgetting that, as Henri Nouwen says, “As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their ‘right’ place.”


What does Paul want the Church to remember?


That the deaf ear is equal to the keen eye; the inept appendix is equal to the pulsating heart. The ashy elbow is equal to the flexing bicep; the dangling hangnail is equal to the grasping thumb. And the Achilles heal is equal to the planted foot.


There are 7 billion people, 600 muscles, 206 bones, and 22 organs all created good, all created the same.  The spiritual anatomy of the Church affirms that there are no out of body experiences, that everybody is somebody in the Body of Christ.


Everybody is somebody in the Body of Christ.