Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 135; 145, Isaiah 44:6-8, 21-23, Ephesians 4:1-16, Mark 3:7-19a
When a person sustain an injury to one part of their body, they can do further harm if they overcompensate with the use of other parts. For example, limping for an extended period of time can strain the back and good leg and require additional treatment. Another example of the interconnectedness of our parts is the phenomenon of referred pain, which occurs when injury to one area of the body causes pain in a seemingly unconnected one. We could experience pain in an arm without realizing the injury was actually to our spine; identifying the proper diagnosis and treatment under such circumstances can be difficult.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares the structure of the body of Christ to the human body. He emphasizes the importance of each part, and the need for unity in a healthy body. For the body to grow in love, all parts must function properly. Sometimes, though, we may not be able to easily determine which part we’re meant to be. What then?
Our “diagnostic test” is this: do our actions (or inaction) contribute to the spiritual unity of the body? If we unnecessarily cause other parts to falter or carry an unfair share of the load, we may need to reexamine our role. However, any physical therapist knows pain in the cause of healing is sometimes unavoidable. When it occurs in the body of Christ, we must ask ourselves whether the pain is a price to pay for unity. After all, we are called to voluntarily carry each other’s burdens, and infirmity is no sin. If it is, the body will be stronger for enduring it; if not we must seek or offer relief. When the body is brought back into balance, pain for all members of the body is minimized and the use of our gifts is maximized.
Like physical health, spiritual health is not founded on quick fixes. A mature approach encourages healthy, balanced decisions benefitting the body, not just ones satisfying localized whims and short-term comfort. We all depend on each other, and must provide and accept support accordingly.
Comfort: The Body of Christ is meant to be a healthy one.
Challenge: With people you trust, have a frank discussion about what pains the Body of Christ is experiencing, and what we can do to make them better.
Prayer: God of healing, teach me to bring your wholeness to the body and the world. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever learned you caused someone pain without knowing it?
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