I can’t say for sure whether what follows is what Paul meant when he was talking about all the parts of the body of Christ, but as I was reading 1 Corinthians 12, this is what came to mind.
And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.
1 Corinthians 12:23-24 (NLT)
Here’s how I came to see it: the outward parts of the body, the parts that are seen, are the five-fold ministers. The prophets, preachers, teacher, apostles, and evangelists. They are the most visible part of the church and, as such, actually protect the rest of the church from a lot of potential harm. Since they are the visible ones, they will take the brunt of an attack against the body.
Many people strive to be an outward part of the body. They want to be up front and centre, but they aren’t always prepared or even called to deal with the fallout of being the face of ministry. There are some that are called to be essentially faceless and nameless.
To be a nameless, faceless part of the body is not a slight against anyone. It is, if you look at it, a place of honour. There are those that God has put in front of you who will protect you. So long as you have no face and no name, you are more likely to have no enemy. And, any truthful minister will tell you, they can’t do their jobs without the nameless people working tirelessly behind them. The Church as a whole would not survive if it were made up entirely of public speakers.
Today I worked at the church and cleaned eleven toilets and five urinals. Tomorrow, I will step up onto the stage and lead worship. Today’s work, though far less glamorous, is no less important than tomorrow’s so long as they are both done unto the Lord with the purpose of strengthening the body of Christ.
Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. Here is a list of some of the members that God has places in the body of Christ:
first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who can get others to work together,
those who speak in unknown languages.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (NLT)
Paul goes on to say that you should desire the most helpful gifts. Sometimes the greatest and most honoured gifts in the body of Christ have nothing to do with standing on a stage. They are the ones done silently in the background under the careful protection of our leaders.
Our greatest position as believers in the body: helpers.
Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 1-2, 1 Corinthians 12