If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you are probably familiar with 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul compares the church to a body.
Lately I have had some insight into what Paul was getting at. For the last fourteen years as a pastor, I enjoyed a pleasantly sedentary lifestyle. Reading, studying, visiting, talking, meeting people for coffee, lunch, or dinner. In short my days consisted of copious amounts of sitting. Sure, there was standing involved like when I was preaching, teaching a class, or speaking, but that was usually standing in one place.
If I have learning anything lately in this as yet indeterminate season as a retail tobacconist, there is very little sitting. There is also a lot of walking. And according to my nerdy walking app, I’m walking about three miles a day. To be honest, I am not unhappy with that fact. Perhaps not quite as happy as my wife is with it, but I am glad to have found a way to get more active.
There are consequences to this sudden change however. There are some parts of my body that are having a harder time adjusting to this sudden change in activity levels. My feet have certainly noticed. But the biggest pain is this one set of muscles in my back. Ooohhh it smarts!
Not surprisingly, I have been thinking about this particular verse:
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:26, NIV).
How true that is. I have found the rest of my body working to address the pain in these areas. I’ve been paying attention to posture, stretching, taking opportunities to sit when they come. My brain has been working overtime thinking of ways to address the pain: ibuprofen, time in the hot tub, scrunching my toes…In short the rest of my body has been working to address the pain in my feet and the five muscles in my back that have been having a harder time adjusting to this change.
That led me to thinking about how that verse is true when you put it in the context of 1 Corinthians 12:12,
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ… If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:12 and 26, NIV).
So, if the analogy holds (and it does if it is to mean anything), when one Christian hurts, the other Christians in that person’s life—especially those in their local church—should respond in kind. When other members of our body hurt, we should hurt with them and work to help, encourage, and support them however we can.
The question is—are we the cause of therapeutic stretching, the spiritual equivalent of a hot hub that graciously soothes away the pain of aching joints, or the spiritual aspirin that brings compassion and relief, or do we ignore it…or worse, aggravate it?