27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Throughout history there have been various forms of societal interaction. For instance, our nation was formed on rugged individualism and that as individuals we have certain inalienable rights; while in other cultures the community is the priority and to step out against the community is to bring shame on the person and their family. In Christianity there is kind of a synthesis of both worlds if you would. That’s what Paul is getting at when he speaks of our position as a whole using the analogy of the body, but within that body we all are individually part of it and our roles should not be overshadowed by the community as a whole. In the church we all should be unified around the head who is Christ. He is the one who is giving the commands, setting the pace, controlling the direction. We all respond to his leading, working together as a whole, but each playing our own part. Where problems in the church occur is when we don’t keep these two aspects balanced. When the community is placed over the value of the individual we often see people being pushed out of the church because they didn’t conform to the vision of the leadership. They, as one pastor put it, have been thrown under the bus. This kind of thinking destroys people and makes them feel that they have no value to the church. God is the one that gives us a place in the church and all the giftings found in the body should be used because they all have value to contribute to the whole. On the other hand, when an individual believes that his gift or his role is more important than the community they can become demanding, dictatorial and are often manipulative as they work to get their way without respect for the good of the community. This also has dire consequences to the health of the body and will destroy it like a cancer eating away from the inside out. Here’s the problem and the solution: Christ. When we look away from Christ as our head we can find ourselves leaning to one side or the other, we can find ourselves placing the community over the individual or the individual over the community. But, when we look to Christ as our head we all will find that we can work together as a whole doing our individual parts. So look to him, serve his body, and rejoice in the role he has given you.