A study pitted the skill of elite university students against that of the average kindergartner. Groups of four built structures using 20 pieces of spaghetti, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow. The only rule, the marshmallow had to end up on top.

In dozens of trials, the kindergartners built structures that averaged 26 inches tall, while the business school students built structures that averaged less than 10 inches.

Though it’s hard to believe, individual skills and education are not what matters. What matters is the teamwork.

The kindergartners succeed not because they are smarter but because they work together in a smarter way. They are tapping into a simple and powerful method in which a group of ordinary people can create a result far beyond the sum of their parts.

That’s how the church, the Body of Christ, works best. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

Unity and Diversity of Members in the Body

12 For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink.

We all have the same one Spirit of God we received when we became followers of Jesus.

The human body is a picture of Christ and of His church. The church is a unit made up of many parts.

Indeed, the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” it is not for that reason any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 1 Corinthians 12:14-17

Some less gifted members feel they are unimportant to the body (the church) You shouldn’t think too small of yourself 

I don’t have to compete.

Life is not a competition or a popularity contest.

But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 1 Corinthians 12:18-19

There’s too much to be done for us to compete with each other. If you want applause, you will compete. Applause doesn’t last. Today’s hero is tomorrow’s zero. But, the glory of God will last forever.

I don’t have to copy.

We need to be different. Be original, not a cheap carbon copy. God only made one you. God made us all unique and different.

We are not to compete with each other, we complete each other.

There are many parts, but only ONE body!

As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:20

I can’t say I don’t need you. I need you and you need me. We need each other.

I need you!

Some more gifted members feel they are more important to the body. No one should think too highly of himself (vv. 21–22).

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable.

It takes all of us. Have you ever said, “If it’s going to get done, I have to do it myself.” No, God doesn’t want that or expect it.

It’s not just you and Jesus. It’s you and me and Jesus. We need everyone.

And those parts of the body that we consider less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unrespectable parts are treated with greater respect, 24 which our respectable parts do not need. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 1 Corinthians 12:23-24

God has put both the presentable and unpresentable members into one body.

We need to care about each other.

So that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27

If you have a friend who is depressed, you may have noticed that they don’t care about their body. When the church is depressed, it no longer cares for its body. They don’t care about each other. When you care, you show it. You don’t just say it. You do something about it.

When you injure your elbow, you say “I am hurting.” It impacts all of you. Your whole body gets involved.

Who do you need to be praying for?

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

You might not personally have something awesome happen, but someone else has something great happen and you can celebrate that. When it happens to them, it happens to you. When someone suffers, you suffer.

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, leading, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 1 Corinthians 12:28-31

Paul lists more spiritual gifts here. These aren’t a list of the order of who is more important. But there is an order of utilizing the gifts.

Apostles get the church started. Prophets foretell the truth – they proclaim. Then teachers lay a foundation for discipleship.

3 Categories of Spiritual Gifts

  • Speaking – word of wisdom (practical), word of knowledge (doctrine), faith (raise faith of others), prophecy (preaching), teaching (communicate clearly)
  • Serving – Helps, Administering (manage and organize), Discernment (motivations); leaders are servants
  • Spectacular – Miracles, Healing (physical, emotional, spiritual) Tongues (unknown/foreign language), interpreting tongues

Don’t use gifts to bring glory to yourself. Don’t use your gifts in opposition to the leadership of the church. Gifts should never divide us. 

The church is the body of Christ. Each member is a part of the body of Christ and has their own place in it. 

Each member should desire the very best gifts.

But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

God wants to use your life and gifts in the context of the local church. The greatest thing you can do with your life is to use your gifts in the local church for God’s glory.

God wants us to be excited about spiritual gifts. He wants us to recognize their value and to thank him for their wonderful blessings. At the same time, He wants us to remember that He gives us gifts so we can build up the church, share the gospel of Jesus, and honor and glorify Him.