Body and Blood, Part 2

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body
—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)

This is the second article in a two-part series on the body and blood of Christ. In the last article I talked about how each of us has a role, or roles, to play in the church. Hands and feet, teachers and evangelists, those were the major topics of the discussion. However, if you’ve been involved in a church for very long, you’ve probably heard something similar before. Being connected to the Body of Christ is nothing new. It is important, I would say essential, but not new.

The topic this week, the blood of Christ, may be new for you. As I have learned about and grown into the role of a pastor in the life of the church, I have found one glaring truth, the pastor cannot do this alone. It probably will not surprise you to know that I’d like to be able to solve all the problems, cure all the ailments, and bring peace and wholeness to our community of faith. I really would. But I can’t. I’m just a man, a human being like each and every one of you.

Pastors sometimes complain about being placed on a pedestal. Well, we do that to ourselves sometimes. We care so deeply for you, the people of the church, that we want to take on the role of savior, not pastor. Honestly, I don’t have what it takes to be a savior. The good news is that I don’t have to fill that role. Jesus was, is, and always will be, the one who brings wholeness and healing. Pastors aren’t called to be saviors. Thanks be to God.

Pastors are not called to be saviors, we are called to be equippers. In Ephesians 4, Paul writes that pastors and teachers are to equip the people of God for the work of MINISTRY, until we reach unity in faith and knowledge (see Eph. 4:11-13). The blood that keeps a community of faith alive and growing is the ministry of its members. If the hand is hurting, the foot doesn’t just ignore it, but sends resources to help it heal. If someone in our community of faith is hurting, it is the responsibility of everyone else to see what they can do to help.

I want to pause for just a moment and clarify something I said just a moment ago. I used the term “members,” but I don’t mean that in a “sign-on-the-dotted-line” kind of way. Although there is, I believe, great value in publicly proclaiming, “I am a member of this community of faith.” However, there are people who have not made that public statement who are certainly members of the body. They are members because they are faithful in service, in giving, in being a part of this community. The whole idea of “membership” is something that the leaders of MCC are prayerfully considering so we will draw circles of inclusion, not exclusion. Back to the ministry of all believers…

We are rolling out some new ways to stay connected with one another as a church family. Church Updates, a new phone tree system, and hopefully more activity on the website and Facebook. But, these are just tools. They will not do the ministry for us. They will only help us minister to one another, and to the world around us. When I hear that someone needs prayer, I still have to pray. When I know someone has a need, I need to go and help. (Not because I’m a pastor, but because I’m a Christian.)

This is a piece of “the other side of the lake” that I talked about in church last Sunday. I can tell you from two recent personal experiences that it is those moments of caring that solidify the relationships of love and support. I’m not suggesting we have to drop everything and rush over to help. But I truly believe that God speaks to us and, if we are listening and willing to act, we can embody God’s presence here on earth. We can be agents of bringing God’s kingdom to life in this world that so desperately needs that peace and presence.

Thank you to those who have touched my life recently. I pray that you will join me as I strive to become more, and more, the Christian God is calling me to be. I am so blessed to call you my brothers and sisters in Christ. And I pray that we would all grow as we journey to the other side of the lake together.

Body and Blood

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)

For the past couple of articles I’ve been focusing on the theology behind our worship as a community of faith. This time I want to take some time and reflect on the theology behind that community. What does it mean to be a part of a church? What does it mean to belong, to be a member? And, maybe most importantly, why do we have those beliefs? What is the theology that underlies and supports our understanding of church?

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, used the analogy of the body to describe the church. Paul describes us as different parts of the body. Each part has a different purpose, some are hands, some are feet, some are eyes, and some are ears. Each of us has a role to play in the church, and in life.

I think this is both comforting and challenging. It’s comforting because knowing that we all have a role to play, means that we don’t have to do everything! We can, with the help of others, work to find where our specific set of gifts and talents fit within the life of the church. Not everyone is called to be a pastor. And not everyone is called to teach a Sunday School class. But, that does not mean that there isn’t a role for you in the church. I firmly believe that each of us is important to the body of Christ. Paul notes that we are all members of the one body, the universal church. We all have a role, a part to play in the health of that body.

The challenge is in ranking those different roles. It seems to be part of our human nature to assign different values to different roles. For example, you can live a full and productive life without a hand, or without any hands, for that matter. However, some of our organs, heart and lungs, are indispensable. We have a tendency to think about things like that in the church, too. We think that some roles, teaching, preaching, eldership, etc. are more important. But Paul tells us that it is actually the “less honorable” members of the body that are treated with greater respect. That is to say, there is no hierarchy in the church.

There is no role, no part of the body, that is any more important than any other. There is not a hierarchy, but a level playing field. Jesus demonstrated this during the final hours of his life, as he washed the feet of his disciples. He served them because he loved them. Not out of some duty, or because he could do something they couldn’t. (I’m relatively sure that 12 grown men could have washed their own feet…) Jesus served the disciples because he loved them. And, he went on to instruct them to serve others as he had served them, out of love.

One last thought for this time: just as we are part of the body of Christ, each community of faith, is also part of the larger body of Christ, the universal church. Marshfield Christian Church, like you and I, is not the whole of Christ’s body. We are a part of a greater community of faith. We may be a hand, or a foot, or an eye, or an ear… as long as we are striving to be what God is calling us to be.

This time I’ve talked a lot about the body of Christ and how we relate to one another as members of that body. But, if you noticed, I titled this article “Body and Blood.” Next time the blood, that which flows through every member of the body and brings it life, will be the focus of the article. Until then, may we each come to a greater understanding of our role in the community of faith, so we may all be functioning members of the body of Christ.