In three consecutive parables in Luke 15, Jesus tells stories about people who lost something—a sheep, a coin, and a child—and, having found it again, throw a party to celebrate. We can relate to the joy described in the finale of these parables. Instinctively we too welcome friends and family to our birthdays, weddings, and new homes because we are happiest when others rejoice with us.
Our shared joy with other believers is rooted in our shared life. As today’s passage makes clear, there are no solo Christians. Each believer is united to Christ, which therefore brings that person into relationship with everyone else who is united to Christ. The rich diversity of the members—feet, hands, eyes, and ears—means that each one makes important and unique contributions to the flourishing of the whole body. Just as a physical body needs each of its parts, the body of Christ needs each member. And just as damage or health in one part of a body has implications for the rest, suffering or rejoicing by an individual member of Christ affects everyone in the church.
While unbelievers might greet one another’s successes with inward envy, believers can give thanks for the blessings God has granted those around us, because we know that a blessing given to them is also a blessing to the whole body. The Lord places the parts in the body, each one with unique gifts and graces, for the good of everyone (vv. 18–19).
In prayer, sick members can give thanks for healthy members, financially needy members can praise the Lord for financially stable members, and lonely members can rejoice with those whom God sets in families. Such thanksgiving furthers our unity, keeping us from division and expressing our “equal concern for each other” (v. 25).