June 6, 2018

Body Parts

Category: Theology - Ecclesiology :: Permalink

Many of the churches I have attended as an adult are full of professionals  doctors and lawyers and PhDs. It is a comfortable place for me because I share so many unstated assumptions about the world with my friends. It is a church of brains, but we may be missing some other important body parts that are gathered en masse at the Baptist church down the street.  Peter Leithart, The End of Protestantism.

When the apostle Paul speaks of the church as a body and each of us as members of it, we might be inclined to think that he is speaking about our own local congregation. But is it the case that every local congregation is a complete body, with all the parts intact and functioning?

Paul’s letter is to the church in Corinth. It is not written about each distinct congregation in a particular city, in spite of all of their differences and their divisions from each other. Rather, it is written to the whole church in a particular city or region. More broadly, Paul is also speaking about the whole church throughout the world.

What happens  and what denominationalism ends up producing — is that particular body parts tend to cluster together with similar body parts, hands with hands, feet with feet, eyes with eyes, brains (or what people think of as brains) with brains.

People who are interested in helping the needy cluster together with others interested in helping the needy. Theology wonks go to church with other theology wonks and often disdain those who don’t read much. People who have a heart for missions want to be with others who share their missionary zeal.

A hand shows up at a church and thinks “Huh. Not many hands here. I guess I’ll go where there are more hands.” But hands are precisely what that church needs.

We need each other. And we have no promise that every gift  every body part   exists in every local congregation. We need the body parts that are found in the church down the street and the body parts in the other church across town and so on.

It’s possible that we too have some body parts that those other churches lack.  And maybe if we stopped thinking that we were superior to them  we’re brains and they’re not; we’re feet and they just stand still  we might even be of service to them so that the whole body grows up into the fullness of Christ, locally and globally.

Posted by John Barach @ 8:49 pm | Discuss (0)

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