Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Oh the Pain of It!
God has many ways to get our attention and today, I got the message loud and clear: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (I Corinthians 12:26). My foot is the part that is suffering or so I discovered halfway through our walk today. For almost two weeks now, my right heel has been sore, but today it is screaming for attention which it will get tomorrow as I go to the podiatrist. It could be a heel spur or plantar's fasciitis. No matter what is causing the pain, I can hardly walk and my entire right leg hurts as a result of the heel pain. So here I sit. All my plans for cleaning and activity are sidelined out of necessity. I am reduced to doing what I can while seated.
When Paul wrote that verse to the Corinthians (above), he was describing the Body of Christ and how each part of that Body has a different task like the human body. He goes on to describe how the foot cannot exclude itself from the body just because it is not a hand. Every part of the body needs all the other parts in order to work effectively. No part of the body can say they have no need of another part. In verse 24b, Paul writes: "But God has composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, and that there may be no division in the body, but that all members may have the same care for one another." To put it another way, no part of the human body can be successfully independent of the other parts. No "Lone Ranger" body parts. In Christ you cannot successfully go it alone! Likewise the entire human body hurts when one part of it is hurting...trust me, I know today!
However, when one part of the body is honored, all the parts rejoice together!
Paul's whole analogy was written to a church divided. People fighting with one another over the gifts. Some claiming to be more spiritual because they had a certain gift that someone else did not have. We see the same thing in church fellowships today. People asserting their importance over others either because they hold a position or have a certain gifting from the Lord that others do not enjoy. Whatever may be the root cause, God desires, as Paul affirms, no division in the Body of Jesus Christ. We are to esteem others as more important than ourselves. If one person in our fellowship hurts, God calls us all to be concerned for that person, and if someone is honored, all should rejoice. There are no favorites in God's economy. None are more important than the others.
In Chapter 13 of this Book, Paul tells us the more excellent way we should be treating one another. He describes what Christian relationship should be when we apply Christ's love to all situations. Verses 4-8 reads: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away." Paul makes it clear that some gifts will pass away, but love is the key to demonstrating God's glory in this lost world. So why boast in gifts, talents, or position? That is the world's way of doing things. Instead, love others. Defer to them. Weep with them and rejoice with them. We are all part of one body in Christ.
Towards the end of Chapter 13, Paul writes a very significant verse (vs. 11): "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." Implied here is a call to grow up and think as mature believers when it comes to the fellowship of believers. Now, in our present time, we do not have the luxury of being children in our speech, thoughts or reasoning. We live in difficult days. If we divide the Body because we are filled with pride, we are behaving as an immature believer. Instead, God is calling us to work together that He may be exalted and lifted up before our hurting world.
At the present time, my entire body is suffering due to the pain in my foot. What a practical lesson for me to learn. My foot is important. I cannot ignore it or its ability to carry me where I want to go. Therefore, I have to take care of it. In the same way, if we have a Christian brother or sister who is hurting, we need to minister to that person. We need to lift them up so that they may enjoy once again the love of the Lord. My prayer is not only that my foot will improve and heal, but I am also praying for fellowships all over our world that the love of Christ will prevail in all relationships so that God will receive the glory and Christ will be evident in the Body. Won't you join me in this prayer as we grow together in the love of Christ? Selah!