I Corinthians

Are You Puzzled Yet?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  

I Corinthians 12:4-6 

We say that the body of Christ is the church. But what does that mean? And who are we, and what part do we play in the overall scheme of things? In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples what people were saying about Him. Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus replied, “On this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it.”

Jesus said that He would build His church. The foundation is Christ, and the building blocks are those with faith in Him. The bricks that make up the church aren’t the bricks that make up a building. They are those who serve through prayer and action. These are what the Bible calls, “The Body of Christ.” Note that Jesus didn’t say, “upon this rock I have built my church,” rather, “I will build my church.”

In other words, Jesus is in the construction process. It is an ongoing action, requiring building blocks that are alive and active. That, unfortunately, is where the rub comes. One block can tend to see itself as vital to the overall scheme of things, while another may not see itself as all that important. God took a huge risk using living bricks.

Paul found that the early church was faced with a similar dilemma. So he penned a letter to the Corinthian church to teach us just how vital we are to God’s work. We are the pieces of a great divine puzzle, that when united becomes the image of our Lord.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
I Corinthians 12:12-13  

We are all of equal value to what God has in mind and desires for His church. When you accepted Christ as your Savior you accepted Him as Lord of your life, and with that comes direction.  If even one piece were missing, then the picture isn’t complete.

Now, the body is not made up of one part but of many. What would it be like if you only had most of your heart? You wouldn’t be able to function at your best. What if you only had most of your salvation?  Would it have any real value?
I Corinthians 12:14  

To put it another way, if you were forgiven for 99% of your sins, would you go to heaven? The answer is simply, no. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. It’s not that big sin that restricts entrance, nor is it a whole lot of little sins that keep us out. It’s any sin.

God wants His church to be complete! There are those within the body of Christ that feel they are the complete picture. Then there are others who see themselves as just extra parts! Such thoughts could not be further from the truth.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
I Corinthians 12:16-20 

Look at pieces of a puzzle. Notice that there are no complete pictures on any individual piece. The creator wanted a puzzle, not a portrait. When Jesus said “I will build,” He is making it clear that there are a lot of parts required to complete the picture He has in mind. If you feel your piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit, that doesn’t make you unnecessary. Every part is equally important to the overall picture. God will not complete the picture without you.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
I Corinthians 12:27-28  

To complete a puzzle takes patience and some organizational skills. What do you do when you first open the box? You try to organize the pieces by flipping them over and identifying their shapes, patterns, and designs. This is also true for businesses, social groups, and churches. We try to organize by gifts and talents, finding out where each person belongs in the overall picture. The way to do that is by first looking for those pieces that will set out the frame. They are the easiest to identify. They give the picture its boundaries. These may be managers, specialists, teachers, pastors, and leaders. Their importance isn’t because they make the picture, but because they are easy to see, and they help in establishing perimeters.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?  But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
I Corinthians 12:29-31  

Slowly, you begin to assemble parts of the picture, making one connection at a time, until it all comes together. Sometimes it’s frustrating to find two pieces that look like they belong together, but they don’t fit. Maybe their edges got bruised when they or someone else tried to force them into a place they didn’t belong. Not everyone is called to hold every office. Some pieces may have been misplaced and weren’t designed for this particular puzzle.

If a piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit as you think it should, don’t toss it away. It has a place somewhere. If you discard it, you may find that one piece is needed to finish the work. Without that discarded piece you will never have a complete picture.

People who put together complex puzzles will often times glue them together. This way they won’t fall apart when moved. This is also true for God’s church. He has a glue He wants to use so that when the foundation is shaken, the Body of Christ will stay together. This way we can present a portrait to the world and not just a pile of disconnected pieces. Paul gives us the formula for this glue in four verses.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:4-7   

Where do you fit in God’s picture? Have you found that place? Are you glued in? Next time you see a puzzle let it be a reminder that you are a very vital link within God’s design. Without you, the picture isn’t complete!

Until next time,


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