Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A fingernail

Because of my recent surgery, this morning I got to thinking about those organs of the body that we seem to be able to do without--I'm doing quite well without my gall bladder, thank you very much. However, I might never again eat fried foods as I once did, though that's both very good for me and perhaps merely psychological. And I've never missed the appendix that was removed late one spring Monday after an excruciating day doubled over with knives in my stomach.  Thirdly, though I am thankful for the uterus and ovaries which helped produce my children, I was not sorry to see them go. And have not missed the mess or pain associated with their presence in my body.

So the pertinent question I pondered as I looked out the kitchen window, waiting for the tea kettle to boil, was--are there really superfluous organs in the human body?  Of course, having no medical training at all, I am not qualified to answer this in any scientific manner (though I have managed to diagnose (and self-diagnose) a plethora of maladies--both correctly and incorrectly), so I can only respond from a layperson's point of view. But what strikes me from this purely non-medical point of view is how formed together our bodies are. How fit and perfectly functioning all our parts are and must be in order to make us live and breathe and keep doing so over the long (or short) span of our days. And how, if one bit of that body is off, the whole of it feels it. An inflamed toe can make it impossible to walk well (ask SK about a memorable trip to Disneyland, if you don't believe me!). And floating bacterias can fell the whole of it like a house of cards for twenty-four hours, at the very least.  And our very own cells, gone awry, can destroy us.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. I'm writing my way into 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul equates the followers of Christ to the human body. We are His Body.  I realized this morning that it was all very well for me to write that none are let off the hook from Paul's admonition that we seek the more excellent way of Love; but unless we understand that each of us really does have a place in the Body, none of 1 Corinthians 13 is anything more than pretty words read at weddings.

Here's the fundamental truth of 1 Corinthians 12: 12 and following, as Paul writes it (in the New Living Translation): "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other...The Body has many parts, not just one part...The foot can't say to the hand, 'I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand'...Our bodies have many parts and God has put each part just where He wants it. How strange a body would be if it only had one part!...The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you'...Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually most necessary...God has but the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity...You are Christ's body and each of you is a part of it."

Each of us is given a spiritual gift because each of us is part of the Body of Christ. And we each need the other. I don't know what your gift is (or are). And perhaps you don't either. But that doesn't mean you don't have one. Do not make the mistake of EVER assuming you are giftless in the Body of Christ. EVER. God doesn't care what the world tells you, what education or school of hard knocks or bad hand you've been dealt. He isn't interested in what you aren't. When you came into the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit was given to you, He didn't come empty-handed. He came into your life with a gift. And that gift is meant to serve the Body, extend the Kingdom and enable you to give glory to God by doing.

It's in light of this understanding--this undergirding that each of us is part and none is left out--that we must talk about love. Because the love of which Paul speaks isn't primarily romantic love, but Body-of-Christ love.  But I get ahead of myself. That's tomorrow.

Today, let's sit with our gifts and the beautiful picture of us as Christ's Body. I might only be a single fingernail, but by His grace, I'll help the finger and the hand and the arm raise in worship and the Body of Christ praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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