On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
-1 Corinthians 12:22-26
“Within the body which is one, there is true diversity – a multiplicity of function which is necessary to its being a real body (1 Cor. 12:17-20). Each member with his particular function is necessary to the other member for the good of the body as a whole (vv. 17-21).”
- P.T. O’Brien, The Church in the Bible and the World, p. 106
It has been said that the character of a nation can be assessed by the way it treats its weakest citizens. If it can be said for nations it can certainly be said for the church. How we relate to those who are weak is a reflection upon our maturity in Christian graces and the degree to which we understand the grace of God and the body of Christ. This will come as no surprise, but Christ’s body has weak members. When Paul addressed the Corinthians we are not sure what the weaker members looked like. They may have been those who were boisterous and unrestrained in their charismatic gifting. We do know, however, that their weakness was apparent and looked upon with a certain degree of disdain. We also know that they were indispensable. They were less ‘presentable’ but necessary. There was a tendency to keep them hidden and obscure and not to honor them as necessary and functionally important parts of the body. We tend to denigrate and disregard those who are different than us. So often weakness is minimized and dishonored when that fact of the matter is that at one point or another we all demonstrate weakness. We denigrate weakness. We have tendency to think that if only the weak would get with the program then we would have a strong church. And yet, whatever the weakness each person is a necessary part of the whole church, both generally and particularly. Christ's church needs those who are weak to function properly, and both weak and strong members must live with the God-exalting goal of mutual love. In this each has a vital part to play in the aggregate that becomes the body. The weak are no less important than the strong and we must honor them as vital to the proper functioning of the body.
May God give us great grace to function together as both weak and strong, interdependent upon one another and in demonstrations of love toward one another, as we give living expression to Christ’s body.