I heard a sermon recently that really got me thinking. The sermon was talking about the relationships of Jonathan and David and how Saul was so jealous of David. In other words it was a message on the dynamics of those three and their relationships. Jonathan was never jealous of David and in fact was a super good friend to him yet Saul, Jonathan’s father, was very jealous of David and wanted to see him dead. I don’t know how I made the leap in my mind but I found myself thinking about how the body of Christ operates. The body of Christ is made up of human beings that have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, (New International Version or NIV).
This is fascinating when you really take the time to think about it. When you or I look at another person we see them only on the outside of their body. We see eyes, nose, mouth, hair, arms, legs and so forth but we don’t see how they think or what they like to do for fun or anything about their personality. We have to get to know them first to have any kind of relationship with them and to know their personal likes and dislikes. We also don’t see their stomach or kidneys or bowels or muscles and bones but we know that they must have them because we know our own body has such important parts to keep us going. You might say that for human beings we have an outward appearance and an inward part that no one sees, not even ourselves. For instance I know that I must have a stomach and digestive system because I eat and eliminate every day, but I have never seen my insides, except on an x-ray or MRI or Cat-Scan. As I type this my fingers are working in cooperation with my brain to get the words I am thinking into a visual representation for you to read. I can see my fingers typing but I can’t see what I am thinking, I just feel the thoughts come through. In order for our body to function we must have the cooperation of the outward parts with the behind-the-scenes inward parts. If one part of our inward unseen part is not working well then our whole body suffers. For instance if my kidneys don’t work the way they are supposed to then I will either eventually die or go on dialysis. Or if my heart doesn’t work well I could have a heart attack and die. See where this is going? Our bodies are marvelous when everything works well together and we can live our life pain-free and disease-free. So it is with the body of Christ. We have to have cooperation from the outward and visible parts and the inward, behind-the-scenes unseen parts. Every Christian has a function within the body of Christ that is important to the whole body.
Why is this such an eye opener to me today? Well, first of all, I am getting older and in some ways I feel like life is passing me by. I have always been a stay-at-home Mom and for the past nine years I have been a single stay-at-home Mom. I feel like my life is never going to be exciting. I worked hard to finish my education in hopes of having a career but somehow that has simply not happened and I have seen so much of the leading of God in stopping those opportunities from happening that I have finally accepted that my role in life is to never be a career woman. I have been and continue to be the behind-the-scenes cheerleader, prayer warrior, guide, teacher, and responsible parent for my family. While my adult children don’t need this guidance so much anymore I still have a twelve-year-old that does and so I continue to be a Mom and do all the Mom things that I have always done. I find my role in the church to be the same, I am nearly invisible and yet I know that many need the prayers that I pray for them. Many need that one word of encouragement when I give it. But my role is as a behind-the-scenes worker and not an outward seen worker. Many times in my life I have felt rebellious about this role I am in. I wanted so much to be seen and appreciated. I helped each of my children to be good students and independent and now the adult children are independent and doing well in their life. I worked hours and weeks and months and years to help my husband achieve everything that he wanted out of life and he did well and is considered a successful man, a doctor, a retired military officer, and he dumped me. So for the past nine years I have felt my invisibility even more.
Perhaps that is why the sermon I heard recently hit home so well and got me thinking about the body of Christ. There are as many if not more invisible parts of the body of Christ working than there are of the visible. For instance everyone sees the worship team and pastor on Sunday mornings at a church service, but few see the one who cleaned the church or shoveled the snow off the sidewalk or made sure that all the bathrooms had toilet paper and hand towels. How many of us actually see the persons that prepare the communion and clean up afterwards yet someone does this faithfully. Who came in early and turned up the heat or air conditioner so that we would be comfortable as we sit in service, someone did! A few see the Sunday School teachers, but not many of us see all of them. A few see the nursery workers but not many of us see them. And yet without all of these invisible parts working behinds the scenes the Sunday morning service would not run smoothly. All the parts of the body of Christ must work in cooperation with each other in order for the body of Christ to shine forth and spread the love and joy and peace that comes with being a Christian. And look at what the whole body of Christ is achieving in this world! We are changing lives of people all over the world. We are giving hope to the hopeless. We are showing the world a more excellent way to live. Now that is awesome! I love that about the body of Christ! I love that I can give my small amount of money as an offering to God and you can give yours and as we each give financially we make a difference in other people’s lives. Our money helps our local church and it helps missionaries all around the globe to be able to help bring the Gospel to others and the family of God continues to grow and grow and praise God that our small invisible effort has played a part in that! Whether you are a visible part or an invisible part of the body of Christ, you are important to the Kingdom of God! I can feel blessed that I am a behind-the-scenes person and I have been reminded that I am an important part even though I am invisible to most of the world. God sees me and that is all that matters. I can be content in my invisible position just as the writer of Hebrews reminds us.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:1-8, (NIV).
Until next time…Katherine