Saturday, October 29, 2016
October 29, 2016 Of all the ways we describe what it means to live as a Christian, perhaps one of the most common is that Christ is the head of the Church, and we are his body, each one being a member that contributes to the whole. This analogy is taken straight from Scripture, particularly 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 5:30-32. In the Corinthian text, Paul uses the analogy to teach our interrelatedness, going so far as to say that when one part of the body hurts, the entire body feels the pain, and when one part rejoices, the whole body sings. Those who have experienced deep sorrow or great joy have often experienced the truth of these texts, as they have been upheld in prayer or have keenly felt the suffering of a brother or sister. We also have experienced the pain of betrayal when the body is torn by jealousy, pride, and dissension. What often escapes our notice however, is how the Head of the Body is affected by what happens to the members of it. Nearly thirty years ago, Linda and I built a cabin on the acre of land her folks gave us. I went into partnership with my brother in law Dennis to buy trees from the state lands. We went halves on the money, but Dennis did most of the work, cutting and dragging them to the roadside, and sawing them up on his mill. He took the 6X6s; I got the 4X4s. He built a house; I built our cabin. One winter morning during construction, I was at the cabin site working all by myself. I was working on the roof and needed to reach the eaves for something. There was a pile of 4X4s just behind the cabin, so I climbed up the pile. Actually, I only started to climb. The first step was a big one, so I set myself for it, throwing all my weight to my right foot. Unfortunately, there was a spike on the log I chose to step on, and the energy with which I threw my weight into the step drove that spike into my foot and almost out the top. I was stuck so firmly I had to grab my leg with both hands to free my foot from the nail. The instant I impaled my foot, my entire body sympathized. The message immediately shot to my brain, and from there to my stomach and sweat glands. Once my foot was freed, I lay in the snow, sweating, my stomach heaving. I limped to my truck, got it started, and headed for the hospital. It was an interesting process trying to depress both the clutch and the accelerator with my left foot, all the while trying hard to hold back the dry heaves. Today as I thought about the Scriptures which tell of our connectedness in the Body of Christ, I know what sympathetic pain is like. I've felt it physically, and I've felt it spiritually. But what has me thinking tonight is how my pain or my sin or my confusion or doubt affects Christ, the Head. It's not just other Christians who are affected by my success or failure; as the head of the Body, Jesus Christ himself is first one to receive the messages from the extremities. He's the first to notice, the first to feel the pain, the first to know the exhilaration. Perhaps if I can remember that, I'll make better choices more often, give him more cause to celebrate. That would be cause not only for my gratitude, but perhaps even his.