Devotional: April 3, 2020
“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.”
First Corinthians 12: 25-26
As a pastor, I have a unique view of the church. One of the things I most appreciate about the church is that when she functions well, the body of Christ is a model of cooperation, and giftedness. Within any church, of any size, people have various gifts, and they use those differing gifts for the benefit of the whole.
Many people look at the church from the outside and think it is all about the pastor. As a pastor, I can assure you that this is NOT true! The church ministers and functions well when she is filled with all kinds of different people, with all manner of different skills. From visiting the sick, calling people, leading music, cleaning the church, preparing meals for the Lighthouse Ministry, filling bags for students to take home food for the weekend, leading bible studies, arranging flowers, designing bulletins and newsletters, sending cards, volunteer gardening, serving as worship leaders, ushers and greeting people with a warm welcome. As a minister, and frankly a human being, I could never accomplish all those physical tasks by myself. But as a church body, those things come together in a beautiful rhythm.
It was this message which Paul was trying to communicate to the troubled church at Corinth. Members were spending all their time arguing with each other, rather than appreciating each other’s gifts. It made for a very unhappy, unhealthy, ineffective church.
The body of Christ, our church, is similar to the human body. When one small thing is hurting, it can sometimes affect our whole body. I recently had some oral surgery. When you think of a small thing like a tooth, it’s hard to believe how crummy it can make the rest of your body feel. Trust me, it did! We all know what I’m talking about.
We have a very healthy church. Yet these days, the body of our church is functioning in a very different way. The church doors are closed, but the body still exists. We may not need bulletins, or be able to have a bible study, but we are still an active church. I also know that some feel it is comforting just see the inside of our sanctuary. A woman shared with me that it brought tears to her eyes, just to see our stained-glass windows, even if she could not be there! We all are longing for the familiar.
Our church body is adapting to the current needs of our congregation. People are calling one another, food is being purchased and taken to those who can’t venture out, cards are being sent, and I am sending out these daily devotions. Several of us are working together to reach out to you on Sunday morning, through online worship, to give you the promise and hope of God’s love and assurance.
Perhaps one lesson we all are re-learning from this battle with coronavirus is how much we need one another. We have always known this in the church. Now, perhaps we are learning this lesson as a global village. Pandemics are not defeated unless everyone does their part: doctors, nurses, researchers, government leaders, “essential workers,” volunteers who sew masks, teachers instructing our future generations, and even those of us who “self-isolate” and “stay home.” We may not have asked for this fight, but the truth is that we all are in this one together.
The devastation from the coronavirus brings with it not only death, but also isolation, fear, grief, economic downturns, and job losses, to name just a few. This virus is not our friend. Fighting this pandemic together may have a “silver lining” of showing all of us just how much we need one another.
Paul’s greatest sadness when he considered the Corinthians?
He writes, “Some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.”
First Corinthians 12: 31
The truth for the Corinthian church, for our church, and for the whole world is this: we all are important! We are important to God, but we all are also important to one another. Celebrate your individual gifts, and know that your gifts and talents are needed in our church, in our community, and in the world.
Prayer for the Day
You are the master designer, crafting our bodies as marvelous examples of diversity, cooperation, and coordination. Yet so often when some people get together, there is division, quarrelling, jealousy, and judgment. Help us to remember that we all are parts of something larger than ourselves: the Body of Christ, and the human race. Let us freely offer our unique gifts to others, as we appreciate their gifts. We pray this prayer as the Body of Jesus Christ, in His Holy name. Amen.