“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
One need not look very far to see the Creator’s proclivity toward interdependent systems. Nature’s symbiotic functioning certainly mirrors this truth. How spectacular the interplay of light, temperature, water, nutrients, wind, emission, absorption, and a whole plethora of other variables that make the eco-sphere we live in a place of life. Each of the variables have an independent significance but it is their contribution to the whole that truly highlights the heart, beauty and complexity of our Maker.
Our bodies are so much more complex than something like photosynthesis and yet the simplicity of those interdependent principles are active in both. The Word of God, in multiple citations, uses the body’s interdependent realities to help us better understand the independent and interdependent role we are to exercise. Our individual God-given giftings are meant to serve, not so much ourselves but rather the body.
The intimate interactions of our various body parts and their effectiveness determine our level of health. A toothache puts the entire body into a tailspin; a broken limb disables. It is when any of our various body parts breakdown we fall sick or experience injury, and even die. When the body is functioning properly, it is hospitable. It cleanses itself, creates antibodies to prevent illness or to move to heal itself. Through the complexity of interdependent parts working in harmony, they communicate to the whole.
Often, I find myself slipping away into isolation or living in community with too much guardedness. I not only end up robbing the body of Christ of key contributions I was designed to bring to the table, but I end up hurting myself by not letting others see me as I truly am, my distress and wounds included. How can the physical body, through sympathetic neurological chain reactions create the possibility for healing if the parts that are injured do not properly communicate their need in the first place? So it is with us, His body.
I believe much of the healing, strengthening and development we are to experience in Christ is exercised through our connections with brothers and sisters we fellowship with on a regular basis. I certainly do not claim to be a good example of this. As a result of hurts experienced as a child, I learned to be guarded. I’m sure most of us can identify with that. For me being vulnerable is a conscious decision more than a reflex. Trusting others who are just as fallen and broken as myself carries with it a guarantee of getting hurt. Yet, according to Eph. 4:15-16, my healing, growth and strength seem to be tied to this risk of community. I imagine, to the degree we invest in that community will in large part determine the degree of meaning we experience, both in us ministering to others and in our being ministered to.
1. Were you able to identify with the author’s hesitancy to authentically risk connection? If so, what key experiences in your past have contributed to this reaction?
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5 (ESV)
2. This is a messianic verse predicting what would happen to Jesus around 700 years prior to his coming. What insight can you garner from this passage regarding vulnerability? What do you think motivated Jesus to endure such mistreatment?
3. In Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 the parallel is drawn between the human body and the body of Christ (all those who follow Jesus). What are both your natural and spiritual gifts? Are you using them in community with one another to build up? If not why?
4. Spend a few moments and ask God for the same motive and strength Jesus drew from when facing such horrendous treatment. Ask God for help in being courageous with others in community. Thank Him for His willingness to be vulnerable with you and for His heart that espouses gentleness, grace, mercy, patience, forgiveness, truth and love, especially when it comes to exercising that in community with others.