Pastor Barb - Recently, I had an injury to my back that kept getting worse. It seemed like it altered my life almost instantly. I couldn't do the things I wanted to do and even needed to do because of the debilitating throb! What was strange about it was that the pain I was feeling was not in my back; it was in my leg! The injury originated in my back but, because everything inside of me is attached, it caused the pain to be felt all the way down my leg! Weird! But that's a body...all the parts are attached to each other. If my back is hurt, my leg just might feel the pain.
So it is with the Church, otherwise known as "the BODY of Christ." Christians are all connected just like every part of a human body is connected, and Jesus Christ is our Head. If one part of the Body is hurt, it's normal and expected for other parts to feel pain. It should! He knew we'd need each other. No person is called to barricade themselves up in isolation from the rest of the Body. It would be like my hand deciding to stay in my pocket all day and not participate in doing the housework. Things would go pretty slowly. I need that hand participating! But if that hand gets broken, I need the other parts of me to compensate. If a brother or sister in Christ gets broken or are in pain or need, our automatic reaction should be to HELP and try to alleviate the pain. What can you do? If you see brothers or sisters who are struggling, offer your heart, your hand, and yes, even your pocket book to them. They're a part of you ,even if you can't see it. Eventually, you should feel their pain and move into action. That's called compassion: Love in action. If you hurt, I hurt. If you laugh, I laugh. If you are hungry, I will feed you. If you're His, then you're my family; EVEN if we don't go to the same church! What would happen if we decided to act like a body and walk together as one? Unity is not the same as uniformity! We can act like a body even if we don't agree on every single thing. If Jesus is Lord to you, I have so much in common with you! We're fitly joined together and we have much to accomplish to win the world to Christ! They'll be more attracted to Jesus if they see us work as one and love each other with no division amongst the Body! I know it's possible and even necessary. Let's act like the beautiful Body of Christ that we are!
Pastor Al - As Barb's husband, it has been necessary for me to pick up the slack in some areas around the house and with our kids. Typically, that is expected because we are family. So it is with the family of God. There's a line from C.S. Lewis' book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" that I think applies beautifully to this situation. Lucy is upset and crying because her older siblings, Peter and Susan, don't believe her when it is actually Edmund who is lying. The professor, in whose home they are staying, intervenes, attempting to bring peace to the situation. He says to them, "You're family aren't you? Why don't you act like it?" I think at times, Father God would like to say that to some of His children. Jesus gave us this commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you." Christ's love is not dependent on any quality that makes us loveable. It is not because of our human credentials, a particular church affiliation, talent, personality, achievement or the lack of these things. The servant-like, selfless love that we as Christians display toward one another is the Christ-like characteristic that will be appealing to those in our circle of influence. You and I are the body of Christ! We are God's family. Let's love like it!