Think with me about the larger issues facing my world. Our thinking together will be a prelude for dialogue. I will hold up concerns; you think about each one. As you give me your undivided attention, that very act of attention will permit me to expand your awareness and grasp you more deeply. This expanded awareness will enable you to participate in my larger purpose for the church and the world.
Are you prepared to think with me? Think about the church, my body on earth. It is my visible, tangible presence to the whole world. Think about the shame I endure when my people are mediocre in their commitment to me. Their lack of passion embarrasses me. Do you see why? All those skeptics outside point to them as examples of my life and work. Can you help me communicate both to the tepid and to the skeptic that I am a person of passion? I care. I commit.
– Ben Johnson, I Stand at the Door, CTS Press, 1986, 6.
As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.1 Corinthians 12:18-27 (The Message)
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, 2the 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.
- As you think about the church at large at work in the world, name examples of when you have seen the church give honor to the God it represents. Name examples of when the opposite has been true as well.
- Think about the above question personally. How has the church drawn you closer to God? Has the church ever hurt you, pushed you away from God?
- You are part of Christ’s body – do you see yourself that way? What role(s) do you play? Are you a tepid member of the body or one who is passionate?
Guide me to think with you today.
Help me to think of your church
and my role within it.
Inspire me to see the church not just as it is,
but for what it could be.
Help me to see how you are calling me
to be a passionate member of your body.