1 Corinthians 12
When we think of the ear, we most likely are thinking about those lumpy, peculiar bits of cartilage just on the outside of our head. While their shape helps us to ping the location of the sound, the majority of the work is being done on the inside. The eardrum is vibrating, creating the analog beating that is then turned to electronic impulses that our brain interprets. But even just beyond the eardrum, there is great work happening that is equally important to the overall function and health of the body, although this is assuming you are not hearing alarming noises at the present. Enter the eustachian tube. It is the gravity-driven country road between the other side of your ear and the top of your throat. This little pathway is responsible for a couple of very key functions, which you may never be aware of if all is going according to plan. It sends any junk the ear makes down and out. It prevents bacteria and any other intruders from creeping up. But finally, its primary function might just sweep you off your feet, literally. The regulation of gas and pressure behind our eardrum is important to hearing, but even more important to balance. If this is the slightest bit off, we may be experiencing a case of vertigo, an internal roller coaster that never leaves the station. The room will spin. Sweat forms on our brow. Our eyes jitter. Our head pounds. Nausea fills our belly until our body cannot take it any longer and we “blow chunks” as one might put it more indelicately. Oh, and yes, you may lose your hearing too. All because a space less than a quarter of a square inch doesn’t have the right amount of pressurized gas.
In Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks of the ear, but also hands, feet, and eyes. The metaphors for the functions of each part of our body are endless. Physically, we can “survive” without some parts, but we recognize that functioning as a whole is disabled because something, or to Paul’s analogy, someone, is missing. While it may be more obvious when a man or woman is missing an eye or a digit, it is equally important to recognize when we are missing the kidneys and a liver which are removing the poison, or the amygdala which is controlling our rage and lashing out, and yes, the eustachian tube which is providing a steady balance. These parts are easily overlooked, and many times, the people fulfilling these roles are not only disregarded, but are themselves unaware they are doing them. These aren’t the folks performing miracles, preaching in the street, or speaking in tongues. These are the ones who watchfully discern, the ones who are unflinchingly faithful, who make and show perfect peace, and those who have an infinite amount of helping hands to extend. These are of special modesty, but of equal concern (v.25).
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” – 1 Corinthians 12:18
Now, for the bit with application. We often give much love to the “showier” bits. Those who take on a responsibility during a worship service or teach a class, but for a moment, think about the hidden parts among your church body. Who stands watch (physically or emotionally) at the door of your church? Who finds a way to create harmony between a foot and a hand vying for the same attention? Who shares their faith when doubt is beginning to spread among the believers? It is time to take notice. To recognize. Find a way to show this part of the body some love today. A call, a text, a card, a small token, or a chore done. It is a very important bit of “self” care. Chances are they will be modest. They will say they aren’t really doing anything important. The truth is, they might be the very part keeping the church on their feet, preventing potential headaches, heading off a building rejection of the stomach, or simply lending a listening ear. If they suffer, so do we, BUT if they rejoice, so do we. We absolutely need all the parts to be the church we are called to be.
“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.” – 1 Corinthians 12:22-24a