Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: 1 Corinthians 12
I’m disappointed. Paul, introducing the topic of spiritual gifts in today’s passage, says, “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols” (2). At least, that’s how my dad’s NASB, the brown-covered one you see in all the photographs, puts it. And I say to myself, yeah! Idols are stupid idiots! You know Paul knows his Isaiah and his Psalms. But then I turn to the NASB on Bible Gateway, and it puts it as “mute idols.” And I check the Greek, and sure enough, the word indicates an inability to speak, not moronicity. The word literally means “voiceless.” Which is still in the spirit of those Old Testament critiques of idolatry; wood can’t speak, gold has no spirit. But man, I thought Paul was straight-up throwing some shade at idols’ intellectual capabilities.
After discussing spiritual gifts, Paul moves into one of his best-known metaphors: the body of Christ. As Paul tells us, to become a Christian is to become a part in the larger body of Jesus Christ: “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (13). You can’t spiritually survive on your own any more than a severed hand or extracted organ. And Paul leverages the metaphor to subtly counter the factionalism he addressed in the early passages of this letter.
Remember those schisms? The whole I-am-of-Paul, I-am-of-Apollos thing that had infested the Corinthian church? The body metaphor takes the ground out from under that mess. Paul explains: “If the foot says, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body” (15). I suspect that the Corinthians were holding up Paul, Apollos, and their peers as models to aspire to. And each division had their own model. Some thought the body should be all hands, others all eyes or all ears. Paul counters: that’s not a functional body!
Another problem with the factionalist, one-size-fits-all approach is that it gives short shrift to important parts of the body. Paul points out: “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you'” (21). Less prominent body parts get overlooked when people fail to give them the honor that their function merits. How often do you appreciate your liver? How grateful are you for your liver? But a person who has experienced liver failure has probably gained a newfound appreciation for the detoxifying organ. Paul wants to get the Corinthians to a point where they recognize the value of the whole body, not just the flashiest people in it, ideally before they lose some important and useful people. In the body of Christ, there are no appendixes.
I want to give a quick shout-out to my mom, who gave me not only the bar of Green & Black’s that I’m currently going through, but also the plates you’ve seen over the last three days, and this Sandra Boynton book about chocolate. Thanks, Mom!