Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Body is not a Community

There is an amusing story that says that different members of the body got together to talk one day. As normally happens when individuals get together, they start bragging about who is the best. Each member of the body spoke very highly of himself and gave reasons why he was the most important part of the body. After each member had spoken, all were at odds. (The Brain was not mentioned in this story) Through all the bragging, the colon remained silent. Appealing to the colon as to a referee, the other members of the body decided that the colon should decide who was the most important. Much to their surprise, the colon answered, "I am the most important part of the body." Stunned, they all burst into spontaneous laughter, and began deriding and humiliating the colon. "You only deal with waste," said some members. Others cried out, "You are in the darkest part of the body." Confident of his claim, the colon remained calm. After a moment or two, the other members became silent, and only then did the colon speak. Still unruffled, he said to them, "I will show you." So, for the next three days, the colon closed itself off, so that no waste would leave the body. Of course, the excrement backed up, the digested food had no place to go, and the other members started complaining that they were not getting their nutrients, so they too had to shut down. By the fourth day, all the body members clamored, "please, open up, we agree with you, you're the most important part of our body." After this, the colon opened up, and the body returned to normal in a short time.

I submit to you that this scenario could only happen if the members of the body talked only to each other, and stopped communicating with the head (the brain or mind). The members of our body seem to cooperate rather well with one another, however, upon closer inspection, it is apparent that they really work together only in cooperation with the brain. The brain is the headquarters, where each of the members sends his concerns. The mind is the one that gives instructions which, if carefully followed, alleviates the concerns. The hands do not talk to the eyes or legs. When the stomach is hungry, it signals the brain. The brain in turn tells the legs, “go to the refrigerator,” and then tells the hands, “open the door,” and so on. The stomach did not talk to the legs or any other part of the body. Not one member of the body consulted with another, instead, all concerns (and desires) go to the brain. The decision to eat is not a community decision; it is the brain's decision. The brain is the one that is in charge of the bodily system. The community (of bodily members) is not. This is the system that God has designed, and it works effectively and efficiently to carry out the tasks that He has designed.

The Apostle Paul very aptly compares the Christian Church with the body of Christ. In this metaphor, we -- the believers, are the different members of the body, while Christ is the head. Christ sends His Spirit to our minds, and in conjunction with the Godhead, He controls the mind (if we allow Him to). As a consequence of receiving the Indwelling Holy Spirit, we receive the attributes of "lowliness and meekness (humility), with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2, 3). And the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, spiritual gifts according to His discernment. As Ephesians 4 says:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

You see, as long as we remain connected to the Head, the Spirit remains in us. As long as the Spirit remains in us, we have the attributes (love, peace, long-suffering, patience, meekness, humility, etc.) and the gifts. However, when we start consulting with one another as if we were a community, than we lose the attributes, which is what brings cohesion among us, and we lose (or misuse) the gifts. The attributes and the gifts come from the same source, and they are part of one package. You cannot have one without the other.

For the church to function as a body, we need to behave more like a body, by communicating with the Head (through prayer, devotions, and bible study). As long as the church acts like a community, it ignores the Head, works in its own strength, and loses the blessings of the attributes and the Gifts, and fails. For the Church to be an effective body, it must stop behaving like a community, and it starts by allowing Christ - the Head - to coordinate and order all things.

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