Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Body of Christ (a series of staff reflections)

Our motives for sharing revelation and wisdom are to make sure we all walk in complete reverence to our Holy God.  Not only can we not approach God in any kind of manner but we also must respect those who are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  In love and reverent fear we should come one to another especially in sensitive matters of reconciliation.

To each one there have been things afforded to them.  What things have been afforded to you?  What side of life have you seen and experienced that God has given you to offer to your other brothers and sisters in Christ.  We all see through the glass dimly.  We all know in part.  But as we come together it becomes a more clearer picture.  Who has a right to devalue what God has given; not even the person themself.  There is something to be learned from every spectrum of life.  No matter what country, ethnic culture or class, everyone has learned things that others have no knowledge of unless it is shared.  Even every generation has its own awareness.  Unless we come together we will not see the whole human part of the picture.  In the past I looked at impoverished conditions and hardships as a hindrance in life.  That somehow being impoverished or enduring trials consumed you.  But it seems that anything can consume a person.  It is what you do with the state you are in that matters.  God has given us all portions as we are born into this earth.  We just need to gather what it is He is calling us to; for who is responsible for what family they were born into that they cannot put that aside to see the greatness of what they were called unto.

— Terri Woodson

 

 

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The Body of Christ (a series of staff reflections)

“The body of Christ” has been on my mind for the last couple of years – as a phrase, a concept, and a reality.  It seemed fitting (for me) that this would be the theme of our year’s writing assignment.  I think I hoped that this process would bring about some kind of ultimate fact that would be the missing key to unlock my understanding; of course I soon realized that I don’t know, that it isn’t just one thing I’m looking for, that the manifestation of God in Christ in us is even more un-pindown-able and more mystical and more beautiful than I could hope.  I believe that and experience it, and hope it will continue to be unexplainable in its fullness. So I’ve been thinking and writing, and maybe all these thoughts seem a jumble, but it has been good for me.  How great that this Great Being, this Presence, this Existence, this I AM, this God is – and is in us.

Body

As I write, the image of a human body is in my mind.  This body is all one entity; there are not parts unconnected that just exist alongside each other.  The arm doesn’t float next to the torso, unattached; it is firmly connected.  And it is not just connected, but also a part of what is connects to.  Where does the arm stop and the shoulder begin?  They blend together, and at the same time are distinct in form and function.  The arm is good in its function, and useful.  It makes up part of this body, but it is not the whole body.  Or think of its brother, the brain.  Brother brain is essential for the health and liveliness of this body, but he is not the body.  There is the heart – also absolutely necessary, but without the other parts to pump blood to her purpose is pointless.  Skin isn’t a body, but holds everything in (and keeps stuff out, too!).  Eyes are not a body.  Blood is not a body.  A living, healthy, complete, and fully functioning body is not made of one thing, or even several essential parts to sustain life, but is every part joined together as one.  Every limb, follicle, cell, and cavity.  Every bone and muscle and gland and fluid.

St. Paul has already said the same thing in a letter to the church in Corinth.  I like the phrases he uses in 1 Corinthians 12:

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (v.12)

 “For the body is not one member, but many.” (v.14)

 “Now there are many members, but one body.”  (v.20) 

 “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”  (v.27)

You plural are the body (the Greek text actually uses the plural pronoun umeis as the first word in the sentence).  An individual person is not the Body; I am not the Body, and you alone are not the Body.  All together are.  It is every person, every part, united together into one.

How does this work?  Is it automatic?  To some extent it must be an indefinable mystery that sweeps over us.  But it seems there also must be an intentional coming together, a uniting that we all work toward together.  I think it has something to do with acts of love.  And love is sacrifice.  I realize this may be too simplistic a definition, but maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Jesus’ prayer for all believers, as recorded in John’s gospel, is for unity.  He prays:

“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (17.21-23)

I think about the perfect love in unity shared between the Father and the Son and the Spirit – and Jesus praying for this unity among us.  And this unity is expressed in love and by love – sacrificial love.  These are acts of serving one another, of sacrificing self.  Christ’s attitude is our example: humbled as a servant, obedient to suffering, looking only for God’s honor (the segment in Php. 2.1-11 is a beautiful description of this).  I think what I’m saying to myself in all this is that our ability to be one on our part depends on our willingness to love.  And if loving is sacrifice – of not putting individual desires first but doing what is in the best interest of the others – then it makes sense that each part of the body must look out for the others and serve the others in order to function right.

— Anne Wilson

 

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The Body of Christ (a series of staff reflections)

What does it mean to be the body of Christ…

The body of Christ is the Church, the visible expression of the kingdom of God on earth, living and proclaiming the message of the incarnate Son of God. As he was in the world, so are we, the church, to be in the world. These are first of all, those who claim the salvific death of Christ for themselves and subsequently are followers of Christ. These people are on the journey of moving from selfish, individualistic living to loving God, loving one another and loving their neighbors. The Body of Christ seeks to manifest the life of Christ as the community of those who believe in Christ.

…IN the world, FOR the world?

Incarnational ministry. The Church, the body of Christ, must be a visible, tangible, relational presence in the community in which it lives. In order to really understand this, it is necessary to reflect on the biblical theme of Emmanuel – God with us. This is not a passing fancy of God’s nor is it some mere theological concept. It is at the center of who God is and the passion of his heart. God wants to be with us and wants us to be with him. Throughout the scriptures this theme is revealed. Indeed, it is with this lens that the scriptures must be understood. For without understanding this aspect of God’s character – that he wants to be with us and wants us to be with him – we misunderstand the message of the scriptures, the incarnation and the gospel.

Even as early as in the Garden of Eden when God goes seeking after his straying creation, this is his motive. Throughout the history of Israel, God desired to dwell among his people. And with the birth of Jesus, “God became flesh and dwelt among us.” In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, he asks the father that those that have been given to him would be with him to see his glory. In John 14 he goes to prepare a place for us, so that when he comes again he will take us to be with him so that we can be where he is. And in Revelation 21 this comes to a beautiful climax:

See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them,

They will be his peoples

And God himself will be with them.

Incarnational ministry will have this same character to it. As God wants to be with us, so we want to be with those God leads us to, because he wants to be with them through us. Incarnational ministry is about dwelling among the people. Our sinfulness leads us to places where we feel safe and among people who will not threaten us or who are different from us. But as God transforms us, we allow God to lead us to unfamiliar places and people. God begins to put the Emmanuel principle in us and we want to be with others.

Incarnational ministry is not just a concept or a performance of ministry to people outside of God’s grace. These, who were once so far from us, now become people who are our friends whom we desire to be with, as God desires to be with them.  We do not simply seek to make these people objects of our ministry. Rather, we seek to form genuine relationships with people because we are interested in who they are as bearers of the image of God.

– Paul Richard

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