When Paul wrote about the diversity that exists in the body of Christ, he used several illustrations of physical body parts to make his point. Is the foot not a part of the body because it is not a hand? The ear because it is not an eye? What if the whole body were an eye or an ear? God has placed the various parts of the body, just as He wanted. No part can say to another I don’t need you.
Here is where it gets interesting. Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor…and God has put the body together, giving greater honor to those who lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other (1Co. 12:22-25).
This is a beautiful picture of the various members of the body working in harmony. But the question remains, who among us reading this passage considers him or herself the weaker, as the less honorable member? It is easy to interpret this passage to mean that I, as the more honorable, more presentable member of the body need to care for the weaker, less presentable. But what if I am the weaker member?
In every place where I have lived, the majority culture has by default defined what is the honorable, more presentable part of society and the church has been tainted by this secular reasoning. Certainly, we need to care for those who are in need. And I affirm that the body of Christ must care for the weaker members. What I am struggling with is how to identify, who are the weak? It cannot be a self-designation, nor an imposed one. However, in general, the “presentables” set the standard, which in reality is not a biblical standard at all. Less melanin, more testosterone, fewer physical challenges do not make one more presentable.
Recent events and the mono-cultural status of most churches require that those of us in majority settings must be careful. When we think about expanding our circle of friends to include people of other ethnic and racial groups, remember your new friends are NOT the less honorable.
“When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers.” 1Co. 11:20, 21
There is only one loaf (1Co. 10:17). We divide the body at our own peril.