All the Pieces
“ …but, speaking the truth in love, may [we – cf. vs. 13] grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Have you ever spent hours working on a puzzle only to discover, when almost finished, that you are missing a few pieces? You can still see the picture, but it is not perfect. Similarly, if you have ever lost functionality of a particular body part, you immediately recognize just how significant that part truly is. For example, if you break your leg, you might still be able to walk, but with far less efficiency than before.
Paul, on several occasions, was moved by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13) to explain to us how the body of Christ (i.e., the church – Ephesians 1:22-23) is designed to function.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Like the physical body that God created consisting of various parts each with unique and necessary functions, so also is the spiritual body. We all play a vital role in enabling the body to function according to the will or instruction of the Head which is Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:15-25). This is the concept behind the instruction to “be of the same mind” that we see in various passages (Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2; 3:16). To be of the same mind is to be united with the will of Christ and executing that will to the best of our ability (cf. 1 John 1:5-7).
Sometimes, though, a member or two is lacking or altogether absent. Perhaps a member is struggling with something and their trial has caused their faith to weaken. It might be that, like the seed that fell among thorns (Matthew 13:22), a member has become distracted by earthly things. In these scenarios, the affected members become noticeably absent. Even when they are at services, their minds seem to be elsewhere and, in their daily walk, time spent studying, praying, and serving has become diminished. Regarding the body, we might say that a noticeable limp has developed. We can still see the picture, but it now has a few pieces missing.
I would like you to think about your pinky toes for a moment. If you are like me, you are probably not usually mindful of your pinky toes. You know they are there, but you do not actively think about them much. When do you think about them? When you jam one of them into a dresser in the middle of the night on your way to get a drink of water, right? In other words when pain is being experienced! What does every other member of your body do when that pinky toe is in pain? Everything shifts its focus, doesn’t it? Your hands seek to hold and soothe it. Your entire body bends down to make that toe the central focus.
“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Do you know of a brother or sister who is struggling? If so, when is the last time you set your focus on them with a prayer, a phone call, a card, or a visit? If you are struggling, let your spiritual family know! That way, you can receive the loving attention you need to become stronger. We are all in this together. That is the beauty of God’s design. I pray that we, as a congregation of the Lord’s body here in this place, will be able to display a full, complete picture of God’s love to our community. To run with endurance the race that is set before us and not just limp across the finish line (cf. Hebrews 12:1). Together and with God’s help we can! Through Christ, we can do all things! (Philippians 4:13)