Iíve been thinking lately about the body and being provided with wonderful experiences to observe it in action. I really love the way The Message words Paulís body comments and want to quote it here - even tho itís a little long:
Your body has many parts - limbs, organs, cells - but no matter how many parts you can name, youíre still one body. Itís 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 in one fountain - His spirit - where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves - labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free - are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body just isnít a single part blown up into something huge. Itís all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, ďIím not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I donít belong to this body,Ē would that make it so? If Ear said, ďIím not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I donít deserve a place on the head,Ē 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 gigantic hand wouldnít 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, ďGet lost; I donít need you?Ē Or, Head telling Foot, ďyouíre fired, your job has been phased out?Ē As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way - the ďlowerĒ the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When itís a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part if 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, wouldnít 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 donít, the parts we see and the parts we donít. 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 Christís body - thatís who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your ďpartĒ mean anything. . . Itís obvious by now that Christís church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, uni-dimensional part? . . . And yet some of you keep competing for so-called ďimportantĒ parts.Ē
Until one has Ďbodyí relationships that are intimate enough, formed through Christ over hours, days and years of intense involvement, does this passage mean much. My previous religious life, which entailed a lot of bo-hiney sitting, back-staring fellowship sitting in rows on pews listening, with an occasional pot luck dinner thrown in where God was never mentioned, did not involve this passage at all. We never knew each other well enough to be concerned with the value of our various body parts.
When one spends time, as is illustrated by the New Testament church, hours, days, eating-talking-sharing-living time, this illustration takes on a whole meaning. Paul uses various body parts to show that we are all important, yet have different and equally necessary functions. He mentions folks competing for being the more important part. I want to take this down a rabbit trail towards us getting along with one another. If we are a Hand, for instance - we see the huge importance of what Hands do. We value Hands - not only ourselves, but the other Hands in our group. We know we perform a very necessary function and pat the other Hands on the back, as well. However, how do we react when we meet an Elbow? Other than polite conversation about the weather or a recent story on the news, do we value that Elbowís function as much as we do our own? When it begins talking about its life - do we feel as comfortable relating to it as we did our fellow Hands? You know, in reality, we Hands couldnít even do our jobs if it werenít for the Elbows - can we admit this? And what about a Lower Intestine? They can be kind of sluggish and stanky - we donít really enjoy hanging around them too much and we surely donít feel comfortable in polite company hearing them talk about their lives or how ďwellĒ they are functioning in the body. Do we sort of keep one eye on our watches as they talk, anxious to move back over to talk to the much more proper Hand group? Do we honor them?
This really hits home to me. In a body - we are SO blessed to have a full range of Parts. In fact, without them (and many of us arenít in groups with all the parts) we are not fully able to function. But it is hard to value folks who are so very different than we are. There are folks who are very detailed, deep studiers/thinkers. How hard is it for them to value the slightly off-kilter people person who kind of be-bops through life? There are people who are encouragers - how do they view those who function as discerners? Some folks are behind-the-scenes workers - not needing praise while others are flamboyant drama queens - attention getters wherever they go. Can they function together?
Well, they can and must. God places each of us in the body as He sees fit (1 Cor. 12:1 Just as we might lay in bed at night dreaming and plotting how different our life might be if we had 3 feet - it is fruitless to fight against Godís design in his spiritual family. He knows how best it will function. In that functioning - that eating-talking-living that we so blessedly do together - we are who we are, and only able to fully BE - due to the folks that God has placed around us. Let us trust Him in that. Let us value the tonsils, the ear lobes, the feet, the kidneys and every part for what it does. As Paul said - if that tiny or hidden part fell aside and quit functioning - everything dependent upon that would fall down like dominoes and soon the entire body would cease to operate.
In our physical bodies - we
ignore much of what goes on to sustain life. In our spiritual bodies, we
need to take care we do not ignore any part. We need to see all people as
God does and find the value in all - even if it takes a lot of looking.
Itís funny tho - do we ever see ourselves as a hidden or intestinalish part?
Probably not. Those people we look at that way donít view themselves as
such, either. So in reality - our viewing others in that way is simply our
perception. Letís pray we are given more of Godís perception and heart in
our dealings through life with others. Letís love, lift up and value
everyone God has placed in our path and sphere of life. We be family.