This Sunday, Christian Churches around the world will be celebrating “Epiphany” or the manifestation of Christ to the world. Although the epiphany is refers mostly to the physical body of Christ (it commemorates when the Magi made it to the stable to see Jesus) I want to invite you to meditate and give thought to the epiphany of mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
What is the Body of Christ?
The Church is the mystical body of Christ, all its members being guided and directed by Christ, the head. St. Paul set forth this definition in various passages, especially in Ephesians 4:4-13.
Personally, I like St. Paul’s description in his first letter to the church of Corinth.
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. [1 Corinthians 12:12-21]
Now that the mystical Body of Christ has been established, let’s dig a little deeper and unpack these verses.
Q: Is it right for one part of the body to look at another part and tell it, “You do not belong?”
A: NO – The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
Q: Is it right for one part to say to another, “My part is more important than yours.”
A: NO – there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Q: Finally, is it right for one part to look at another part and tell it “You aren’t doing it right“?
A: OK, so I added this one myself, but don’t you think it would be pretty funny for a FOOT to look at a hand and say, “You aren’t doing it right”? Seriously, what does he know? He is a FOOT, not a hand! Why would a FOOT think he knows the HAND’S job better? Is there ever a time when the foot might be able to tell the hand this? I’m thinking no. Remember, he is a foot.
Keeping all of this in mind, how often do we fail to realize our place in the body of Christ and, inadvertantly stick our “foot” in Jesus’ mouth? (no disrespect indended)
- When we try to tell a brother/sister in Christ they do not belong, we might be sticking our foot in His mouth.
- When we try to tell a brother/sister in Christ that their “part” is not important, we might be sticking our foot in His mouth.
- When we squish the Spirit of another, we might be sticking our foot in His mouth.
- When we act in pride and arogance, we might be sticking our foot in His mouth.
- When we think our way is the only way, we might be sticking our foot in His mouth.
- When we lack respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ…
I think you get it. Think about it. These are all ways that we grieve the Spirit of Christ. It is no coincidence that ALL of these are examples of the actions of the Pharisees.
I hope to build on this blog in the days to come, but for now I think this is enough to noodle on.
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