Settling into your favorite armchair, you open a book to read a story, a mystery. (It is, of course, a dark and stormy night . . . )
On page one you read–
Ever afterward, Sherlock Holmes and I agreed that this was the strangest case which we had ever been called to investigate. You may well ask what made it so disturbing. It was not that a royal corpse had disappeared from the hearse. Nor was it that grave robbers had absconded with a king’s coffin.
No, to our horror, this king’s body had begun to vanish piece-wise . . . while he lived.
You stare at the page, shocked. Who would dream up such a plot?!
Yet, if you think carefully, some of us may well be party to depriving a living Monarch of His body parts.
Those of us who have yielded our lives to Jesus Christ recognize Him as our King. (Though we are still learning to be obedient subjects, He has nevertheless brought us into His kingdom.) Our Sovereign, Jesus Christ, has one body on earth: His church. Christians. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . and made to drink of one Spirit,” the apostle Paul teaches us in I Cor. 12:13.
As parts of that one body, the following verses point out, we cannot afford to amputate ourselves. Our King’s body depends on our special gifts and unique functions to carry out His eternal purpose.
No Spare Parts
Sometimes we doubt our importance, however, when we compare ourselves to others whom we admire:
“Listen to her voice; I can’t sing like that, even in the shower.”
“Wow, he’s a great public speaker; I don’t have the courage to do that.”
“She’s such a warm and friendly person; I never know what to say to people.”
Whoa. Stop right there. If God only needed a choir, we’d all be opera stars. God could have made us all great orators or friendly Wal-Mart greeters if that’s all He wanted. But no. He wanted every single individual one of us, like flowers in a garden full of hollyhocks and irises and daisies and roses, to bloom exactly the way He created us. “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (I Cor. 12:18) He has a purpose for every part.
So if I lament that I am a nose when I’d rather be an eye, how does that sound to God, my Creator?
“God, You obviously didn’t know what You were doing when You made me.”
Oh. I don’t really believe that. Do you?
I believe that God is wise. I believe that He loves me. That means that the Father created me–and Jesus gave His life for me–so that I could have this particular job. This nose job. So perhaps I need to look at my role as a nose differently.
As Paul points out (I Cor. 12:17), “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” Apparently a nose is important, after all.
Nobody But You
Our Creator endowed each of us with different strengths—on purpose. (See I Cor. 12: 4-6, where we learn that “there are varieties of gifts . . . varieties of ministries . . . and varieties of effects . . .” which all come from the same God.)
Then He positioned us among different circles of people. You touch the lives of people I will never meet, and vice versa. You and I will have entirely different opportunities to act as Christ’s ambassadors, each of us diplomats in different “countries.”
I know of a woman who embraces this. I don’t know her, but I wish I could thank her in person. Honestly, I would kiss her feet. Because that woman, whoever she is, has been reaching out to one of my adult children in ways that I cannot. While I sit at home, praying for this child who keeps a careful distance from my influence, this woman has been meeting my child in the workplace, touching my child with encouraging Scripture and powerful prayer. The result? My wandering child recently told me, “I’ve started to think I should trust God again.”
What if that woman had amputated herself from the body of Christ? What if she had said, “I can’t do anything worthwhile”? Or what if she had tipped her nose into the air, stating, “I will only serve Christ if I get to sing in church, not by loving struggling young adults”? Where would my child be today?
If you got a little choked up reading that story, imagine how I feel about being able to tell it. That faithful woman gave me visible evidence that my Lord answers prayer! She just built up another part of the body of Christ: me. And she doesn’t even know me.
Yet that is exactly how the body of Christ is designed to function: continually building up all its members. Ephesians 4:16 tells us “He [Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Our varied gifts and ways of working are provided “for the common good” (I Cor. 12:7).
If we are to grow up together “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), then each one of us must support the other. We must be so connected within the body that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (I Cor. 12:26). Just as your right foot carries an extra load when your left foot is injured, so we must each bear one another’s burdens. By the same token, when one part gets a massage, the body feels good all over!
And what about those members of the body who are weak, immature, or maybe just uncomfortable in public? God encourages us to treat such members with special care (I Cor. 12:22-25). For He Himself gives “more abundant honor to that member which lacked [it], that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”
The King’s Ministering Body Parts
Never let it be said that our King’s members have gone missing. Embrace the role you’ve been given. For it is by being the person the King designed you to be that you will:
- Build up others in the King’s body–those close by and those far away
- Connect with others in ways that can feel the pain that needs healing and see the joys worth celebrating
- Encourage the body to stay strong, healthy, and whole, knowing that our enemy is intent on tearing us down and tearing us apart
- Equip the body to engage in the King’s work
In what ways have you seen the body of Christ the King working well together?
Can you think of a time when you have seen the opposite?
What suggestions do you have for the King’s body parts to work better as a team?