Greg and I were talking recently about how important each member of the body of Christ to each other. In my part of the conversation I brought up a recent owie our son-in-law experienced and how it affected…everything!
Here’s what happened.
Turns out Chris somehow got an infection in his big toe. Not really sure how it happened but it took a few days (or a week) to figure out the hurt he was experiencing wasn’t going away. And, in fact, the toe started getting red and warm more and more each day.
While visiting with us, his mother-in-law (me!) looked at that toe and told him on the way home he MUST MUST MUST go to the urgent care center, he was not to pass go, he was not to collect $200, etc. Instead, he had to have this thing looked at.
Next thing I know, he’s doing a live stream video showing the toe being lanced so the “icky stuff” could escape and the healing could begin. He was also told to expect the nail to turn colors and eventually come off. Which, weeks later, it did.
During this entire process, Chris experienced pain which finally turned to soreness and then discomfort. The toenail came off recently and he admitted it’s still quite tender. I imagine it will be until the new nail grows in.
So, what’s my point anyway?
The point is, this shows the perfect illustration of how important each member of the Body of Christ is to each other. That one toenail on Chris, which seems rather insignificant, disturbed everything. It caused pain in itself. It also affected the way Chris walked. It limited his activities. He became mindful of it because of the pain.
So, too, in the Body of Christ, the Church. We all have an effect…positive and negative…on each other. Even if we feel we are unimportant, we are actually quite important to the well-being of each other, to the proper functioning of the Church. And when one of us is hurting, the rest suffer as well.
So, just what function do we serve?
Today the hubster and I were talking about the apostle Paul and one of us commented “I’m not sure we’re all called to be Pauls.” Well, duh. Of course not. But we are indeed called to a function just as important. We may be a foot taking the gospel to foreign soil; we may be a mouth speaking God’s word as an evangelist; we may serve in a supportive role as we pray and monetarily support others in the Body. Kind of like a toenail that only serves to protect the toe underneath.
Still feeling unimportant and insignificant?
Using The Message, let me share quite a few Bible verses below. In very plain language they detail the beautiful way God created His Church to function. (I am quoting most but not all of 1 Corinthians 12.)
You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink.
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.
I love the verse that states “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less.” That’s powerful. And that’s for us.
So, no matter your function, your calling, your gifts, you matter to God, and He has big plans for you. Plans no one but you can fulfill. Plans to show His glory to others. Plans that will testify of God’s beauty. Plans that will draw others to Him by the demonstration of Christ in you.
Be encouraged today. Use your gifts for God’s glory. Unsure what they are? Ask Him to reveal to you His purposes for your life.
Much love to all,