1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.17 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?18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 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,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45 "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Once upon a time, there lived a man. We'll call him Tim. (Hi, Tim.) In line at the grocery store one day, Tim was politely tapped on the shoulder. "Your arm is bleeding," said the wide-eyed woman behind him, pointing to a rather large cut on his left arm. "Oh, wow," he said, thanking her for noticing. Seeing that she was still concerned, Tim put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry! It doesn't belong to me. It's not actually my arm. It's Lisa's." He paid for his groceries, slipped into his coat, and was on his way, content to have solved the problem.
It was cold and snowy on this particular day, and he shuffled to the car with his collar up to block the cold. Another tap on the shoulder. He rolled his eyes. Again? Strangers were so intrusive today. "Excuse me," said the man who'd stopped him. "Aren't you missing a shoe?" Tim looked down and instinctively wiggled his toes. His left foot was well covered, wool sock and thick boot and all. But his right was bare. Tim shivered a little. After all, the bare toes were caked with snow and, well, the situation did not look pleasant. But again, he lent a reassuring smile to the concerned citizen who'd stopped him. "Thank you so much for noticing, but you don't have to worry. That's not actually my foot. It belongs to George." With that, he was in his car and on his way. He could see in his rearview mirror the stranger still standing there, bewildered. "I don't know what everyone is so worried about today," he thought. "None of these are my problems." By the time Tim got home, he was so flustered he went straight to bed. "I am not even going to brush my teeth," he thought. "Doesn't matter—they don't belong to me. I'm pretty sure they're Joe's teeth."
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. You may have read this passage before, that the church is the body of Christ and each of us has a unique function in it. Today, though, let's focus on the word "belong." Tim, in his frostbitten, tetanus-risking, gingivitis-infested state, didn't have much use for verse 26. When one member of the body suffers, how does the rest of the body respond? It shares the load. That's it. Share in the suffering and rejoicing of the rest of the body.
Now, read Matthew 25:31-46. I appreciate the confusion of the givers in verses 38-39, don't you? I like that they don't remember doing anything special. It reminds me of newscasts where rescuers are interviewed after saving people from car wrecks or burning buildings. I always smile when they shrug their shoulders and say they were just doing what anyone else would have done.
What if kindness was such a natural part of the church that the body was generous without even noticing? What would that do to our definition of what "belongs" in the body?
When you pray about it, ask God to show you how you can “belong” to the church today.