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.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-20
Having sprained my ankle a few days ago, I made two key observations about how the body works when one part is injured….
1 ) Straightforward tasks take so much longer – the rest of the body has to work so much harder to compensate for the part that is not functioning as it should. The body gets tired quickly and other people have to be called in to do tasks that should have been effortless for you. The assistance that you call in may end up hurting other parts of the body i.e. getting bruises under your arms from crutches.
2) However, just because it was difficult, didn’t mean that I gave up on my ankle. Just because it was causing me pain and slowing me down didn’t mean that I just cut it off, thinking I’d be better without it. Nope. I know I still need my ankle if I’m going to function properly and reach my full potential. Hence, I’ve done my best to rest it, giving it time to heal. Accommodating it as best I could to reduce the swelling, bandaging it up during the day and then giving it room to breath at night. Slowly and surely, there are signs of improvement and I should be back to 100% by early next week.
If this is how we look after our physical body, why is it that sometimes when members of the body of Christ are being difficult, our first reactions tend to be, “Oh we don’t need them, they can leave” or sometimes we attack others when they are hurting? Sure, they may be a drain of our energy and resources but as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, we each have a unique role to play and none is more important than the others. Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t stumble and fall. We’re still imperfect beings in the process of being perfected by the grace of God. However, instead of picking on the weakness of others, we should be looking for ways to nurse/love each other back into wholeness in Christ.
I feel like this also applies to the relationships between churches and other churches too. If a pastor or a church has fallen into sin, I don’t think it’s our place to go around condemning them or speaking badly about them. It’s not that I think you condone the sin – I believe God is a just God and will judge them accordingly and there will be consequences for the sin – but just like we wouldn’t cut off a part of our body when it’s injured, I don’t think we should just leave our fellow brothers and sisters to ‘rot away’, but encourage them to repent and love them back into wholeness as well.
It’s unfortunate that there have been many stories of those that have been ‘burnt’ by the Church, but Jesus came to reconcile man to God and as Christ’s ambassadors, restoration and healing should be our priorities rather than deciding who is right or who is wrong in a conflict.