It’s been a rough few weeks. Our school community has experienced two tragedies within the last month. Multiple friends are ill. Add to that, major disruption of daily interactions and isolation from COVID-19, and not only do you have a recipe for spiritual and emotional fracturing, you have a welcome mat for the enemy to take root and lead you further into despair. But thankfully, we’re not alone.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
These words written by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians nearly 2,000 years ago feel more relevant now than ever. #InThisTogether, #BetterTogether, among others were quick to rise as social media hashtags. When we operate and lean into the very ways in which God designed us to operate, amazing things start to take shape. We lean into our gifts (any sewers making masks out there?), we become more generous (anyone giving their time or resources to those in need right now?), we share our talents (anyone leveraging their talents right now to bless others?). Friends, I could go on and on. I know you have seen it, too. It’s all around us. On social media, in the news media, in our neighborhoods.
While it’s been a rough few weeks, I have seen God revealing himself personally to me in more ways than ever through His people – the body. (I initially wrote about some of those ways here). 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 reminds us that, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So, it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
We’re all going through COVID-19 together. We’re all living in uncertainty. We’re all social distancing. We’re all managing life differently than we’re used to.
To fully understand the gravity of 1 Corinthians 12:26, it is important to read what Paul shared preceding that. 1 Corinthians 12:22-25 states, “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.”
“So that all the members are for each other.” To comprehend and operate under the truth that we are all one body, for each other, completely changes my perspective. Ephesians 4:16 says, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
So, how do we operate with this teaching that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
We share gratitude for and with one another. This enables each of us to lean into the gifts God gave us. It fuels our spirit and lifts us up. It shines light in places of darkness. Let’s focus on that for which we are grateful. Let’s celebrate each other’s successes. See the beauty in others and speak truth over others whenever we have the opportunity. Encouraging others is not a natural strong suit of mine, but understanding its impact pushes me out of my comfort zone to encourage anyway. When you pour out encouragement on others, you’re pouring out light and love. And there’s nothing uncomfortable about that!
We pray for one another. I have found myself in constant prayer now more than any time I can recently recall. Our community is suffering. People close to me are suffering. Our world is suffering. We are called to pray for others. We can intercede in prayer for others. And not only that, prayer is just one of the many ways that we connect with God in our relationship with Him. You don’t have to be gifted with fancy words; you just need to know how to have a conversation, and who better to have a conversation with than our Heavenly Father?
We serve one another. Each of us is uniquely gifted and those gifts are meant to be poured out and shared with others. If you have the gift of gab, call a friend to lift him or her up. If you have gifts in the kitchen, make a meal for your neighbor. If you have a gift of writing, send an encouraging letter to a nursing home staff. When we serve each other, we show God’s love to each other. One of my favorite lyrics comes from “With Every Act of Love” by Jason Gray – “God put a million, million doors in the world for His love to walk through; one of those doors is you.” We are doors to His light.
“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22
Not only are we doors to His light, we are each a dwelling for His Spirit, each uniquely created as one very important part of the body, to do His works. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Unsure of your gifting? Take a few minutes to complete this survey as a start.
I don’t know about you, but I’m much more encouraged knowing everything doesn’t depend on me. I’m just one part of the greater body of Christ, and grateful each and every day that I’m chosen by God to do my part. And even though parts get fractured, suffering together is much more comforting than suffering alone. Laboring together is much more efficient than laboring alone. And celebrating together is most definitely more enjoyable than celebrating alone. (Who isn’t ready for a party right about now – or at least some high fives or hugs?)
Until then… Please join together with me in prayer:
Lord, I thank you for Your word that reminds us that we are each a unique part of the Body of Christ. Thank you that because of that, we are never alone. I’m sorry when I lack the motivation and energy to use my gifts. I pray that you open my eyes to opportunities and enable me to bless others, especially during this time of crisis. I trust you Lord that you will continue to make this body stronger through this uncertain time. It’s in Jesus’ Holy name I pray. Amen.