Monday, August 19, 2013

How Your Life Affects Mine

It started five weeks ago,  an unignorable ache in husband's jaw after a routine dentist visit.  The dentist repeatedly assured him this ache was normal after a new crown.  Still, he knew in his gut that something was wrong.

Days passed as the throbbing steadily grew to where husband could feel each steady heartbeat pulse in his cheek.  After two weeks, he went to a specialist who easily identified the true problem. When filling another small cavity that same day, the dentist had drilled directly into a nerve, killing the tooth.  

One tiny nerve, invisible to the naked eye, was powerful enough to affect the entire body.  What's more, one tiny nerve didn't just affect my husband.  It drained our entire family, with the children not being able to play with daddy as they were wont to do and this wife having to pick up the slack when husband was too sick to help out around the house.

It never ceases to amaze me how something so small can have such a big impact.  An invisible grain of pollen settles inside my nose, and I have a full blown allergy attack that puts me to bed.  A rose thorn pierces a pin-sized hole in my child's finger, and the pain is enough to make her intolerably grumpy for the next few days.  Even something as simple as a half hour less sleep at night is enough to throw the body out of whack the next day.

The human body is a fine tuned machine and a fragile one at that.  The fact that it functions at all is a miracle.  One cog loses a spoke, and it is weakened, to affect one body that affects another body that affects an entire entire world.

Paul makes a similar comment about the importance of all body parts functioning together, only he speaks not of the physical body but the corporate body of the church.  

Paul states, "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ...For the body is not one member, but many.... But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. 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; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it..... And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it"  (1 Cor. 12:12, 14, 18-23, 26).

Just as I tend to forget how each part of my body must be in perfect working order for the rest of my body to work as it should, I also forget the same about the body of Christ.

When someone is absent from worship service, when someone in the body is suffering with family issues, when someone in the body is physically ill--I have the tendency to think it doesn't affect me, personally.  Don't get me wrong.  I sympathize with their situations.  I pray for them.  I might even cry in sincere grief over the pain they're going through.  Yet, still, for the most part, I don't really realize the impact they have on me and me on them.  I look at it as their problem, as my problem. 

But according to Paul, I am dead wrong.

Each of these persons is a member of the body of Christ, just as I am.  Each person in the body is needed to work as it should to fulfill its kingdom purpose.  As Paul makes clear in the verses above, I can no more say "I have no need of you" to another believer in Christ than I can say to my feet, "I don't need you today."

Yet, I am guilty of thinking just that, of writing off immature believers, of unreliable believers...of thinking it's just easier to do the work without them.

What's worse, I forget that "if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (v. 26).

No wonder Christians are not having the impact in the world that they should.  We don't envision the body of Christ as we do our own physical bodies--composed of frail, individual parts; dependent on each body part to function at its greatest potential; impacting the rest of the body even when one part suffers, is righteous, sins, fails, or succeeds.

As a result, we're going out on the battle field blind with one arm in a sling and one leg amputated beneath the knee...and that's if we make it off the sidelines at all because we have too many body parts missing or because one body part is burnt out, exhausted because it is trying to do the job of two or more body parts.

I don't know the complete solution to make the church body function as the body Christ intends us to be.  But I do know it begins with each of us reaching out to those around us in the body.

We must seek out those who have fallen away.
We must minister to those who are in need.
We must disciple those who lack maturity in the faith.
And we must not allow our egos to convince us that we are more important than another part of the body. 

Image: Poor husband ready for his first root canal.

1 comment:

  1. Good word. Good reminder. We are only as strong as the weakest member. And, if the weakest member doesn't know where they are needed, or unable to plug in somewhere, there remains a gap. The sad thing is that too many are unaware that they are vital and necessary to the body.