We Need EACH of You!

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Imagine the Master Carpenter’s tools holding a conference: Brother Hammer presides, but several suggest he leave the meeting because he is too noisy. Brother Hammer replies, “If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.” Brother Screw speaks up. “If you wish, I’ll leave. But Brother Plane must leave, too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.” To this, Brother Plane responds, “Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.” Brother Rule then complains about Brother Sandpaper: “He ought to leave, too, because he’s so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way. On and on goes the discord.

In the midst of all this discussion, in walks the Carpenter of Nazareth. He has arrived to start his day’s work. Putting on his apron, he goes to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the gospel. He uses Brothers Hammer, Screw, Plane, Rule, Sandpaper, and all the other tools. After the day’s work, when the pulpit is finished, Brother Saw arises and remarks, “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.”

So It is with the body of Christ – and with us who come to In The Garden.

We all are not only important; we are essential to being the body. If our hands take the day off, how shall we eat? If our eyes decide to go on strike, what is to keep us from bumping into things? If our feet decide they’ve carried an unfair share of the load and resign, how shall we move about? We are part of a team and everyone has something they can do.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul states the truth of our need to accept our differences and to recognize these differences as essential to the proper functioning of the whole. Our differences are not to create divisions between us. There are many parts because there are many needs. And without the various parts, some needs would not be fulfilled.
I’m going to summarize this in just three words—so if you fail to hear anything else I say, don’t miss these three words. The point is:


Let me repeat it so there’s no mistaking it:


God has made us all different and unique. We each have been given gifts that no one else has been given. We are each special and necessary. And each part must be willing to perform its own function.

There are three points about us as members of the body of In The Garden:

1. Each Part Is Indispensable

    While each part is not the same, each of us is essential to the whole. The variety of parts – eyes, hands, ears, nose – are necessary to be a whole body. Each part must be present in order for the body to be complete. If the human body was made up of only one part, then it would not be a complete body. We are given eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, and noses to smell. Each part contributes to the whole in unique ways that no other part can do. We all have a purpose; each of us is important and essential. In order for the body to function properly, it must have a variety of parts that work together as a whole.



2. Each Member Interdependent

    Every part of the body has a need for every other part to function properly.

    Without the cooperation and participation of the various parts, many (if not all) vital tasks would be impossible. Take, for example, the simple act of speaking; speech is possible only when my brain, nerves, tongue, jaws, lips, larynx, lungs, diaphragm, heart, veins, arteries, and capillaries all work together for that specific purpose. What appears on the surface to be the work of only one part of the body is actually many members of the body working together.

    God has placed all of you here in a strategic role! You are an important part of the successfulness and effectiveness of In The Garden. Everyone else is depending on you to be here and to carry out your function. And when you fail to be here and/or carry out your function in this body, the whole suffers.



3. Each Member Is Interconnected

    Whatever affects one member of the body is felt by all of the members.

    Let me give you another example. Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to our toes, especially our little pinkie toes—it’s just one of those things we don’t normally spend hours reflecting upon. Some of us may not even be sure that we have one. But suppose you’re running around barefoot, and you carelessly happen to bump that pinkie toe into the leg of a chair. Let me assure you, it will become immediately evident that your pinkie toe does, in fact, exist. Every part of your body will join in its pain. The leg and foot that is not injured will begin to jump up and down. Your back will bend over in order to enable your arm and hand to extend a soothing massage. All the members necessary for speech will join in and offer groans that words cannot express. No part of your body will go untouched by the injury to your pinkie toe. All will be affected. All will come to its aid.

    That’s what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 12:26:

    If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

    We are all related. There are ties between each of us that make us inseparable. When something happens to one member of our body, whether it is good or bad, all of the other members of the body respond accordingly. This means that I cannot be blind to what is happening in your life and you cannot be blind to what is happening in mine. If each of us is going to remain a vital part of this body, then we must do our part in seeing that we are in touch with all of the other members of this body. We have to know if they are hurting, and join them in their suffering. We have to know if they are rejoicing, and join them in their happiness.

    We are interconnected to one another. We must share in the experiences of one another. Join others in their grief and joy.



Let me close by telling a story. Most of us are probably familiar with a guy named Aesop. He is famous for his many fables that teach important moral lessons. I’m going to tell you one called the “Fable of the Belly”.

    “One day it occurred to the members of the body that they were doing all the work while the belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting (presumably without inviting the belly) and after a long discussion decided to strike work until the belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two the hands refused to take the food, the mouth refused to receive it and the teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two, the members began to find that they themselves were not in very active condition. The hands could hardly move, the mouth was all parched and dry, while the legs were unable to support the rest of the body. Thus they found that even the belly in its dull, quiet way was doing necessary work for the body and that all must work together or the body will go to pieces.”

Our human bodies work together in order that we can live full lives in this world. As members of In The Garden, we must also work together. Each member of this body is indispensable, interdependent and interconnected. It is only as we see ourselves as members of one body and strive to act as one body that we will experience health and growth.



You’ve heard me say it enough times, now it’s your turn. I invite everyone to stand up and turn to those around you—all around you—and look them in the eyes and say,


Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 27 January 2013

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