Weekly Meditation - August 17
If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:26-27)
As I get older, I come to appreciate Paul's image of the church as a body more and more. I take off my glasses and realize how I have taken my eyes for granted through the years. I ice my knee after a run and recognize how much I need that knee to not just run but to walk at all. Yes, as various parts of the body begin to suffer with age, I feel their effect on my whole being.
As we have had to social distance, quarantine, and isolate over the past 18 months or so, we seem to have forgotten that we are members of a body. The suffering of various parts is no longer felt by all. Our sense of community, not just as the church but as a wider society, already weakened by politics, economics, and our 'rugged individualism,' has given way to isolated self-interest. It is as if, as Paul warned, the eye were to say to the hand, "I have no need of you," or the head say to the feet, "I have no need of you." It is as if the suffering of others is no longer my concern.
Paul would disagree, and so would Jesus.
Whether it be a man beaten and robbed and left to die by the side of the road (Luke 10), a paralytic lowered down through a roof by his friends (Mark 2), or the sheep and goats of the final judgment (Matthew 25), Jesus taught us that loving our neighbor means more than warm feelings. It also means action. It means doing what we can to relieve the suffering of others.
As Christians, we cannot put our own individual rights above our responsibility to one another. We are members of a body, and that body has been charged with the task of striving for and building up the beloved community of God for everyone. As we reach for that beloved community, all are honored, and all are able to rejoice together.
For the good of all, the time has come to set aside our selfishness. The time has come to not just say I love my neighbor but to demonstrate that love in action. The time has come to recognize the many gifts we have from God are not just for my well-being but are meant for the good of all. May we be the body of Christ.