Last week I fell victim to one of the main work hazards of being a writer. I was engrossed in my writing when suddenly the battery signal flashed. Desperate to save my work, I leapt up to grab my computer cord. I promptly discovered that my leg was asleep, crashing to the ground and injuring my foot and ankle in the process.
A trip to the ER, two crutches, and warnings that I won’t be walking normally for a couple of weeks later…
Don’t worry! My work got saved.
However, the ordeal and the ensuing adventure of hobbling around on one foot have got me thinking about what it means to have brokenness in the body of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12: 21-27, we read:
“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!”
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
We often discuss the body of Christ in terms of unity, of working together to achieve more, and of being inclusive.
But what happens when a part of the body is injured, suffering, or broken?
I can think of few things:
- · You experience pain
- · You have greater difficulty doing everyday things normally, or as you have usually done them
- · Your other muscles must compensate to keep up
- · You must be careful not to overwork other parts of the body to the point of injury
- · You have to rest the injured part and follow instructions for healing
- · You are reminded of just how indispensable that damaged body part is!
Think about how easily these “consequences” of brokenness in the body might apply to the body of Christ.
When someone in the body of Christ is suffering, we are to share in the suffering, not cut each other off or ignore one another until all is well again (Romans 12:15). As the passage in 1 Corinthians states, members of the body are to have concern for each other and to treat even the weaker parts of the body honorably and equally.
At the same time, we aren’t to push the weak or injured members of the body, but to deal graciously, gently, and patiently (Ephesians 4:2). All the while, we’re to watch that we don’t fall as the injured part has (Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 10:12).
In all of these instructions, it seems that one theme is clear and must be kept in mind: brokenness matters because the body is knit together, unified, in Christ.
When you and I are broken, we are no less a part of His body and no more dispensable. Our value isn’t in our strength, our ability to perform, or ability to fit in tidily and make everyone else’s jobs easier.
Our Lord has a long history of cherishing, using, and repairing brokenness by:
- · Leading broken men and women, like Hannah, Job, Jacob, Ruth, or Joseph to glorify God
- · Justifying all of us by the broken body of Jesus Christ
- · Healing and making well the broken-hearted and broken-bodied
- · Sufficiently working through us and on our behalf, despite our weakness and brokenness
- · Using the foolish things of the world to shame the wise
Injury, suffering, weakness, and most of the things that cripple us are challenging. Whether you’re experiencing physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual anguish, it matters to the Lord and it doesn’t count against you in His economy.
“However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
Your work, inability to work, or lack of being able to work as you usually can and do have no bearing on your position before God as a part of His body.
Take heart, you suffering! Today you may be or feel like a broken part of the body of Christ. But remember that one who…
· Rose from the dead
· Gives us new life
· Created our bodies
· Will provide us with heavenly bodies
· Healed the crippled and raised the dead
· Teaches us to care for our bodies
…That Jesus is the same Christ whose body we are a part of!
What assurance we have in Him, and what conviction to treat each other accordingly.