The human body is a marvel of design and engineering. A variety of elements come together in chemical compounds to produce cells and tissues that make up organs and components that are manifested in human life.
What’s really awesome is how some every component of the human body has a different function but comes together for a common purpose — that is, to sustain life. Let’s take a look at our core text:
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV) 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
First of all, let me do a little housekeeping. Paul is talking about speaking the truth in love. There are folks who will abuse this passage to say things that are hurtful and and then hide behind Scripture. I taught before that there’s no such thing as “tough love” because Love ain’t tough. Just as a refresher, here are the characteristics of Love, according to Scripture:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
So when we speak the truth in love, it is gentle, encouraging, and edifying. Period.
Our core text comes at the heels of Ephesians 4:11 — the gifts of Christ to the Body.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Here we see that the gifts are to bring about unity of the faith and the knowledge of Jesus. What it doesn’t say is that it will bring about complete agreement. The fact of the matter is that diverse understandings are what is needed in order to grow.
You have to catch this — God’s knowledge and wisdom is infinite. We will never know it all. Even though we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) that we may know what the will of the Lord is, we see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12) — that is, we don’t see the complete picture. Indeed, the vastness of God is so Great that I venture that we will be learning for all eternity!
See I know things that Jeremiah Johnson, Jake Stringer, and Henry Harris don’t know. And they know things I don’t know. So I need them. And they need me. And we need y’all! The pulpit can learn from the pews just like the pews learn from the pulpit.
But let’s get to the meat of the matter. Let’s take a look inside our own bodies. Our kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, digestive system, bones, muscle, nerves, and brain all work together to sustain life. However, they all have different functions. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that they all believe in the same thing (the wholeness of the Body) but they believe differently.
Because the kidneys believe that the key to life is the filtration of blood and eliminating the waste as a liquid. The liver also believes in the filtration of blood but in eliminating the waste as bile, secreted in solid waste. The heart believes that the blood is the source of life and must be pumped through the body. The lungs believe that the blood must be circulated but it must be sufficiently oxygenated. The digestive system believes that food must be ingested as fuel for the body and that the exhausted portions must be eliminated as solid waste. The bones believe that the structure of the body must be supported. The muscles believe that they must give mobility to the body. The nerves believe they must communicate the will of the brain to the body and the status of the body to the brain. The brain believes that it must control and regulate the body but it recognizes the importance of the diverse parts of the body to its own survival.
So, the parts of our body believe in the same thing but they believe it differently. There is diversity of belief but unity in objective!
Even though these organs believe and function differently, they have an implicit understanding of their importance to one another — in other words, they will not do anything to hurt each other. The only time the components of the body hurt one another is when disease is present or when one part of the body fails to do it’s job.
Unity does not always equal agreement. Let’s take a look at the body, again. If the liver decides it wants to do the same job as the kidneys, it may agree with the kidneys but it does so to the detriment of the body. You see, if the liver starts doing what the kidneys do, that would be called “liver failure” and the body gets sick and, ultimately, dies. Likewise, if the nerves start transmitting lymph, the nerves are in agreement with the lymphatic system but then you would have a condition called “neuropathy” and the body becomes incapacitated. Agreement is when we bring our diverse abilities, talents, and experiences together to achieve a common objective.
I need to throw something in here — there is a condition where the body begins to feed on itself. This happens when the parts of the body are out of alignment and dysfunctional. The body will begin to consume its own tissue until it is dead. This is something that — sadly — is prevalent in the Body of Christ. It’s been said that Christianity is the only system of belief that consumes its frail and wounded.
But the Good News is that it can be fixed! The antidote is the Gospel — whose chief ingredients are God’s unconditional Love and Grace. When the Gospel is introduced, Grace more abounds than the presence of the sickness of sin. When the Gospel is introduced, Love comes in and conquers division and begins healing with unity of purpose!
Some people believe in rowdy worship; some believe in quiet worship — and it’s okay
Some people believe in shouting praise; some believe in silent praise — and it’s okay
Some people believe in doctrinal precision; some believe that love is THE doctrine — and it’s okay
Some people believe in going to church every Sunday; some believe in meeting with believers in a cafe — and it’s okay.
I may be preaching to myself here, but I’m learning not to knock others for the way they believe. I’m learning that the most important thing is that we love one another in spite of our differences and not be so arrogant as to think we have a monopoly on truth.
We are independent of each other in function but completely dependent upon each other in function! If we were all alike, we’d just be religious robots and totally uninteresting. If we were all alike, there would be no iron to sharpen iron! I need you, you need me, we’re all a part of God’s Body…
© 2017 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)