The absurdity of 1 Corinthians 12

I attended a women’s retreat on Saturday. Aside from just being very transparent, likable, and easy to listen to, the speaker did an excellent job communicating to all of us gals that a proper motive for serving others includes recognition of our own intrinsic value—both to God and to the body of Christ. One of the passages she referenced was 1 Cor 12:14-21.

A few weeks ago my ever insightful husband mentioned this same passage to me. He pointed out that this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians begins with the illustration of certain parts of the body claiming to not be a part of the body simply because they didn’t have the same function as another part.

I think my past readings of this passage must have gone something like this: Don’t look down on brothers and sisters in Christ whose function within the body isn’t high profile. They are every bit as valid as those whose service is up front and easy to see. Yada-yada-yada and so on and so forth. Don’t dismiss others and be a snob. Got it. Moving on…

Why didn’t I see that the first absurdity mentioned is the people who view themselves as insignificant? Probably because that’s often me. It’s always nicer to read a passage of scripture through a lens that doesn’t highlight my own glaring areas of immaturity.

I have developed some imaginary and elusive criteria for what counts as valid service or ministry—mainly that it is something other than what I happen to be doing. I assume that if I serve in ways that are familiar and comfortable for me that I’m hiding and being less than I can be for God. However, I also flinch at the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone to explore serving in new ways—out of fear that I am indeed exactly where I am supposed to be, and any desires to grow into new areas of ministry must be fueled by false motives.

Accolades and recognition are nice—and I’ve been known to rely far too much on those things—but I don’t think the problem is that I’m not affirmed enough. I married well and I am constantly encouraged, built up, and affirmed in who I am and what I do.

I’m actually not sure why (aside from the lies of the enemy) I insist on seeing my offerings as insignificant. I look at other people doing the same sorts of things and don’t even dream of calling into question the validity or effect of their service.

Perhaps I’m pouting because I want to see more immediate, direct, traceable, and profound spiritual fruit in the lives of others from the things I do. But I wonder…would it really help if I did?

Or is this stubborn, false perception of mine just another result of my attempts to define and validate my identity outside of the amazing truth that I am significant and valuable to God?

Slowly but surely, I am starting to get this…

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