The following was first published on our church website.
“The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan according to its clans…” (v4)
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:27)
Unless you’re Dan, I think it would be easy to skip over this chapter, because most of what is written is about other people. There is a chunk for Simeon and his crew, then Zebulum (and yes that’s a slightly strange name), then Issachar and Asher, then Naphtali and of course, Joshua. Only a few short verses relate to Dan and it’s not even Dan Jones that is being written about so, now we come to think about it, this whole chapter is about other people or put more bluntly not me. And if it’s not about me why would I want to waste my time reading it!
I believe this passage, in many ways, foreshadows 1 Corinthians Ch 12. Here the Apostle Paul is allotting, not land but grace gifts and people’s places in the new promised land (the church). Paul says, “you are the body of Christ, and each one of you”. This should remind us that belonging to the family of God means that God will be allotting things for many, many other people to do — beside me (or you). A body made up of just a foot, ear or eye, is not really a body at all, but rather an autopsy room, where dead body parts have been preserved in jars. The body (or church) is a living and dynamic ‘thing’, made up of loads of different people all who bring their gifts and talents to the table so we can look to make much of Jesus together.
However, here’s the rub: you and I will never love and cherish the body of Christ until we learn to love the church more than we love and cherish our part in it! Seeing others flourish, should make your heart soar. Seeing gifts being found and released should flood you with gladness. Seeing unexpected people stepping into new adventures should fill you with gratitude — but this will only happen when we love and cherish the body of Christ and not just my part in it. This may seem obvious but if we’re drawing our identity from what we do (or putting it into Christian lingo: “my ministry”), we will always be looking for a way to get in on the action, and Joshua 19 shows us that in God’s family, there is way too much action for you and me to involved in all of it!
Dear Father, I pray that you would open the eyes of my heart to see the beauty of the church, to love the church as Christ loves his bride and to take great delight in others finding their ‘allotment’ in your purposes. Amen