I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”: apostles prophets teachers miracle workers healers helpers organizers those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you. (1 Corinthians 12:14-31 MSG)
Success is often defined by money and or popularity. There is really nothing wrong with possessing both or either, however, they may not be the most fulfilling pursuits. A person can be very important and yet very unknown. The point is that we all matter in God's grand scheme of things. Everyone is important to our creator.
Have you ever heard of Michael Collins? Probably not. It's really quite sad that most Americans will never know this American hero. Maybe you've heard of two guys who first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969; Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. Collins was the guy who remained in the capsule and orbited for one full day alone. At one point he lost radio contact with earth and the other two astronauts for 48 minutes. How would you feel knowing that 45 years have gone by and history barely mentions your name and yet you played a huge role in making history?
I'm not sure how Collins feels when he plays back that 24-hour period of time. I haven't really read much of his story. It has to hurt a little bit to know that you put in the hours just like the other two guys and yet you are known as the "forgotten astronaut." The reality is that we all have a desire for significance. Some people never try anything significant but it doesn't mean that they don't dream about it. Fact is there is a great price to pay if we are going to do something noteworthy with our lives. Collins did and his efforts and success are left for he and some friends to talk about around the card table. Would he have risked his life had he known that he would simply be the "other guy."
I believe that we all have to ask the same question of ourselves. What significant thing am I willing to do even if no one ever notices? What was Moses's mother's name? What does it matter you may ask? It matters greatly, or it should have, to the million plus Israelites that were freed from captivity in Egypt. Mom was the one who preserved Moses's life and sacrificed raising her own son for the sake of God's divine purpose. There are so many wonderful people in this world who play a significant role in history but will never be recognized for their sacrifices. Oh, by the way her name was Jochebed.
Moses would become one of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. Jochebed had to be so proud her son “the deliverer”. Moses was popular, and still is in the church world. Jochebed was important but not popular and probably not wealthy. What if she had withheld her son from God's plan? I'm not sure that most of us would have put our newborn in a river in nothing but a tar lined basket and yet it played a very significant role in God's design to rescue His people.
I don't have a clue what my future holds. I don't even know if I will ever preach again. Sure it's possible but not certain. What's really important is that I view everyone as significantly valuable. I guess I'm more aware than ever that our value and significance is not found in recognition but in submission. In my momentary obscurity my value hasn't changed in the eyes of God.
When I was maybe ten years old my mom would drag my two brothers and I to a small Pentecostal church. None of us were excited about getting up early on a Sunday morning to go to church. There were no kids programs like today. The old classroom we met in was dingy and mildewed. With the exception of a brief 45 minutes of age appropriate Sunday school we were subjected to an hour plus of hell, fire and brimstone preaching. I guess that we deserved it since we kids were hell on the Sunday school teacher. There were no popular or successful people that attended our church. Just your run of the mill blue collar people hoping to make heaven. We were a sad lot by the world’s standards.
I can't say that I remember one lesson that our teacher taught but I will never forget the precious old saint who never failed once to show up and teach us. Her name was Pauline Kilgore. Her husband didn't attend church and her daughter, who was years older than us rarely attended. She was not a popular lady in anyone's eyes, probably not even her husbands, but I have a feeling that she was a star in heaven. She loved us enough to faithfully be our teacher Sunday after Sunday as long as I could remember. She played a significant role in me believing that Jesus might just be for real even though I never let her know that. When I finally gave my life to Christ, at nearly 21, my mind flashed back to those early days in that makeshift classroom with sister Kilgore. No doubt that she is in heaven today. I'm thinking that she saw us the way God did; significant.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:1-6 NIV)
I think that we might all be surprised when we get to heaven to find the unknowns of this world holding high positions in heaven.
In summation, we must never discount simple acts of unrecognized obedience. We are all significant and play an important role in life. Let's love everyone we encounter today. You never know who you are loving into their place of significance today.