1 Corinthians 12 talks a lot about the concept of the body, and how believers all have different gifts and abilities that make up the body. Believers are meant to have differences that compliment each other. But, not all people are the same, and not everyone is strong in their faith. Nevertheless, they still belong to the body. Verses 21-22 speak to this:
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.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
The interesting part here is the word “necessary.” There are some things to point out here. First is an important reminder that we are to be humble and accepting of the fact that not everyone in the church is going to be at the same level as we are. If you are in a place of being strong, you are not to be looking down on those who are weak and suggesting in your mind that they not be a part of your church.
The second point is that the weaker members of the body are necessary. This point leaves me with two important questions though: 1: What does ‘weaker’ mean? 2: What about weaker members makes them necessary?
For question 1, my guess is that it includes people with the lesser valued gifts, those with very little faith and those who are questioning, immature believers, people going through rough times, etc.
As for question 2, this one is more difficult. Are the weaker necessary for the strong ones, for the weaker ones, or for both? My guess is that there is benefit for both. Being a weaker member myself, I have seen the benefit for myself to be around those that have more knowledge and faith than I. I have also been told that I have positively challenged numerous people I have talked with. So I have seen good on both sides. But there seems to be more to it than that. Paul didn’t use wording like “beneficial” or “helpful”, but instead used “necessary” or some translations use “indispensable.” This is very strong wording used here.
What we can definitely draw from the text here is that it is not only OK for the weaker believers to be a part of the church, it is actually far more than just OK – they are an indispensable part of the body. They are needed! This is good news for people like me, and hopefully encouraging to the “theological elite” or those who look down on the weaker ones to realize that the weak are a necessary part of the church.
Update: Also, let it be an encouragement to anyone who feels they need to put on a “mask” and pretend to be someone they are not in church. Be yourself, be real, be honest with where you are at. If you are not willing to be honest about the difficulties of life and faith, nobody will be able to help you. The church needs the real you.