Monday, November 24, 2008

Your are part of something bigger

If there were one message I could get out lately- at work, at church, among my friends, into my own thick skull- this would be it. Maybe you need it, too.


Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's 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 at 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 isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," 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 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, the 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.

-I Corinthians 12:12-27

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post Ann. As always you are very insightful. To bad all social bodies, including the Church/ecclesia/collect/those called out must be organized in some form or fashion and that means polity - which means positions and then, in turn, power. Allegorically, this might be likened to 'body posture'. Unfortunately, all 'bodies' physical and social have histories which is sometimes seen and other times unseen. Honestly adressing these individual, institutional and corporate histories is a problem we all must deal with in this lively experiment called 21st century life. Two world wars, racisim, sexism and colonial Christianity are things that must be adressed in the body. Systemic and historic body disfunctions and malfunctions like these are things we must take seriously. Not to mention we have to have a starting point for communicating and dealing with such things -- which unfortunately means language and hermenutics or in the English-non-theology speak: interpretation.

I won't even start about my theology of the body/bread/blood on Sundays now or rallying around a certain bishop in the body or rallying around a certain corporate body linguistic statement (creed) as a means to achieving eschatological body unity/harmony.

Anyway, again good thoughts as always. Hope you and those at Quail Springs are well in OKC.

G-d bless,