And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum),which our more presentable parts do not require.
But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance],so that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. I Corinthians 12:23-25 (AMP)
It is just such a wonderful thing that God is continually inverting the 'natural' order of things...
Jesus said that the greatest among us is to be like the youngest, the leaders like the servant, the first like the last, etc.
And when it comes to the makeup of the body of Christ, God identifies a group, or possibly groups, of people that are to be singled out for special honor, even double honor, and the richest blessing while being treated with the utmost respect and decency.
They are described as:
- The rather ignoble -- These are the unworthy, base, shabby, sordid, inferior and rather vulgar folks in our midst. The ones we pity but avoid,except when it is unavoidable.
- The unseemly -- These unfortunates usually behave inappropriately, unbecomingly, indiscreetly, and indelicately.They are a constant source of embarrassment to anyone unfortunate enough to associate with them.
- Those unsuitable for exposure -- No shining stars of accomplishment or potential here. These are the ones we hope stay in the shadows lest some new person get the wrong idea about our group.
- The inferior lacking apparent importance -- Here are the wall flowers, the timid, the mentally or emotionally wounded, those with little apparent gift and significance. They are the 'invisible' in our midst.
Quite the band of renown! Just the folks we want representing our fellowship, right?!
Now I challenge you to name one boulevard church, ministry, fellowship, house church, organic church or small group,that can make a legitimate claim that they routinely and consistently give greater honor, blessing and esteem to folks like these in their midst, than they give to their pastors, worship leaders, missionaries, children's ministry leaders, generous givers, nursery attendants, parking lot supervisors, etc.
I hazard a guess that it is an extremely rare occurrence in the religious and evangelical world. The fact is that we are just too deeply aligned with the world's orientation when it comes to the character of our gatherings. We are increasingly drawn to big charismatic personalities, compellingly captivating programs and presentations where giftedness and talent are prized.
In the everyday scheme of things, weak or inferior things are considered the worthless things. They do not merit our interest, attention or concern. They can be ignored, rejected or discarded with barely a second thought. Unless we happen to be going through a gospel and our attention is drawn to the needy amongst us.
And yet, when it comes to the body of Christ, God says he has taken great pains to place every part, every individual, exactly where he wants them and has invested them with honor and dignity.
He has in fact, "adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body" so that there is no division or separation in the body. The body has been finely tuned, in his infinite wisdom, so that "members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another."
Think of it...
God is saying there is no threshold of competence and ability that must be reached for inclusion in the body. In fact, God says that those parts that seem to provide the least value and significance are absolutely necessary for the body to function properly.
And this is the wonderfully inverted beauty of it all -- it is as we lovingly respond to those unseemly members in the reality of Christ's life in us, we actually experience and exemplify who God says we are...the body of Christ! We are in fact drawn into that "perfect bond of unity" that the Godhead itself enjoys!
This is a unity of love that cannot be mimicked or replicated by the world. It is a supernatural reality that God is working through us to express to the world. Those that are needy and unbecoming and wounded in our midst are not the object of condescending pity or treated as a project to evidence our generous spirit and graciousness. Quite the contrary. They have been placed carefully in the body, and in our lives, so that God can work his wonderful love in us and through us and out to the world!
As a consequence, they are to be embraced for who God says they are -- honored, endowed, blessed and 'more necessary' members of the one body!
Is it time for God to start inverting your fellowship?