“For the body does not consist of one member but of many…. But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:14,18-20 ESV).
There was a time in my past, how I got there is a story for another time, when I believed that some people in the church existed solely to annoy me. I was narrow minded, self-aggrandizing, selfish and impatient. I felt that I was better than most others. I was a long way from fulfilling Jesus’s call to love my neighbor; to be honest, I was a long way from Jesus’s call to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 ESV). My spiritual vision had become cloudy and I could see no one but myself, and that without any real clarity.
In my negative space I had attached a function and a value to the other people in church. Most of the time my assessment was solely based on whether an individual could be of any benefit to me. I saw myself as one of the more important members of the body. I was wounded, and I upped my value, in my mind, by lowering the value of others. I’m sure that many others in the body of Christ thought that I existed solely to annoy them!
I am no longer that man. And I’m willing to reveal my mistakes, errors and sins if perchance someone can learn from them and avoid the long process of finding their way back home after wandering away.
Paul teaches that we are ONE body, and each individually members of it. This means that we all have a part to play. We are all important. And just because we may not know or understand another’s role doesn’t mean that they don’t have one, or that their role is less important than ours. Science has yet to discover the function of the human appendix, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a purpose. Can we live without an appendix? Absolutely, but we will never know how our lives were changed when it was removed. “…the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body we think less honorable we bestow greater honor” (1 Corinthians 12:22-23 ESV).
I’ve evaluated my usefulness differently at different times of my life. At times I’ve felt very useful and very important, while at others I’ve felt like an appendix, unsure of my place in the Church.
“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26 ESV). This is what we should be striving for.
Have you ever cut a fingernail too short exposing some of the delicate tissue beneath the nail? It is painful, and you feel it for days until the nail grows back enough to seal it off. During that time just about anything you do with your hands becomes a painful reminder of your condition.
I have had the misfortune of breaking a toe a couple of times. Every step you take can be excruciating. It may be “just a toe,” but there is no doubt of it’s importance when it hurts. “If one member suffers, all suffer together.”
I have learned over time, in the School of Hard Knocks, that when any member of the body focuses its attention on itself, the whole body suffers. We may not recognize it. We may choose to ignore it. But make no mistake about it, we suffer for it. When any member of the body is in need, be it physical, mental or spiritual, the whole body is in need. When the physical body is want for food or water, it slowly begins to shut down. Organs begin to fail. Eventually, death occurs. This is true of the spiritual body as well, lacking fellowship with other believers, or time in the Word, or in prayer, our spirit gets sick. It’s also true of the Church.
We need to stop looking at Church as something that we do and start seeing it as who we are, a Body. The people we esteem as having little or no value in our Body need to be our first mission field. Read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians! Without love we are nothing. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16 ESV).
I know that some people can be difficult to love–I certainly was for a number of years–but that is why we must love them all the more. Be the Body!