Peter Foster Tasmania Tasmanian scenery
My Reflections on the Word of God
Organism or Organisation?
The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink.
For the body does not consist of one part, but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I do not need you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we consider less honourable, we treat with greater honour. And our unpresentable parts are treated with special modesty, whereas our presentable parts have no such need.
But God has composed the body and has given greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, and those with gifts of healing, helping, administration, and various tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
1 Corinthians 12: 12-29 (Berean Study Bible)
The Body of Christ has Many Parts
According to Paul a body consists of many parts all working together so that if one part suffers all parts share the pain and concern. No one part is more important than the others and no part can claim another part is redundant and no longer needed, but every part has a specific function to perform. This scenario applies as much to the church as it does to our human bodies.
The basic principle outlined above works best in small church groups where each member has a close affinity with all the other “parts”. When churches grow in size this unique situation tends to disappear – the church stops being an organism and becomes an organisation. We can see this quite clearly today because of the rise in mega-churches, but the situation has been around since the earliest days of Christianity – ever since Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. However in Paul’s day churches were small and met in one another’s homes where everyone knew each other and personal relationships were formed and nurtured.
In the Christian church each of us has a part to play. God gives us, according to Paul, certain spiritual gifts to use for the benefit of the church as a whole. These are supernatural gifts and not natural abilities we may already have. They are given according to God’s will and plan for His people – to be used for the benefit of all.
We live at a time in history when most of the church has lost its salt. It is fundamentally weak and largely irrelevant to our post-modern western society. Large churches have become entertainment venues; small churches on the brink of extinction are now meeting rooms for geriatrics in their twilight years, or they are social clubs with no life, no vitality and no gospel message. Of course there are still church groups here and there who are faithful to Christ and the message of salvation. But overall, the living organism powered by the Holy Spirit described by Paul above, has evolved into an organisation – one that is bent on filling seats to pay for staff and elaborate buildings, or to provide entertainment for the masses (of people).
I can see a day when God will spit these “organisations” out of His mouth if they fail to heed a similar warning given to the Laodicean church (Revelation 3: 15 - 16) many centuries ago. The church needs to turn back to the biblical principles outlined by Paul and become an organism where every part has its place, and each part cares for and is cared for by others.

© 2019 - Peter Foster