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Posts Tagged ‘body of Christ’

Here’s an idea: every time I tell a lie, it does harm to the Body of Christ. That Body requires truth. And anything less diminishes it. Either I have a corporate corporeal responsibility or not. I’ve managed to minimalize the impact. It’s so big after all. Well, time to think again.

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Another image that comes to mind is one of those psychology experiments in college where small electric shocks are given to someone else based on the subject’s (my) answers or failures (or whatever the testing might entail). If I could see or feel the impact on this “Body,” would I act differently? If I had a chart of the body and every time I sinned or lied or cheated, a red dot representing pain in some other region or area of the Body would light up. Would I stop?

I know that’s silly, but really, am I a unique part of this larger Body or not? And does my place in it make any difference?

Telling the truth is the hardest of all really. I lie with my lips and I lie in my mind. I lie to others (sometimes masked in halves or exaggeration) and I lie to myself.

Sometimes, I get another crazy picture in my head like I’m standing at the “pearly gates” and, as I have been forewarned [Romans 14:12], I begin to give an account of my life. When I get to the lies part of the list, It’s so long, I end up in some kind of purgatory (waiting tank) after all.

Have I placed ALL the lies under the covering of the blood sacrifice? Have I stopped telling them? Really?

I will probably never get very good at the “not telling lies” part. Some of this is my quick mouth and some of it is the way I think and blab at the same time. I sometimes don’t even “hear” something until I say it. This leaves on option for me: silence. Not speaking. Also difficult, but probably a better choice for the sake of the Body.

I am planning another fast. I do these on occasion but this time, it’s as a result of my previous days’ revelations about the superficiality of the “old self” and the power of sensuality to rule. I’m thinking that food and unrelenting appetite fit into the same drama (not just sexuality and violence). And today, I can add lies and too much talking into the mix. Can I fast from so much talking? Something to consider.

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Here’s what happens when someone doesn’t do his/her part in a volunteer organization: other people have to work harder to pick up the slack. Even if it’s a justified slacking, the work remains. That’s the case with tasks, but what about practicing love?

Ephesians 4:16
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.

Paul spends a lot of time in Ephesians talking about love and unity and maturity and operating in the call of grace. And the upshot here is that this work, this practicing of God’s presence (that is what this is all about), is how the Body of Christ is “built up.” Today’s group of people who are believers and participants in the work of Christ have been asked to become a whole by doing their part: live loved and give love; live in grace and give grace.

The message has not changed over the years, only the people who are here on earth practicing, reflecting, and trusting.

I used to think that doing my part was all the “doings” of a life in Christ like evangelizing or feeding the poor or visiting the sick and imprisoned or reading the bible or praying or going to church. And certainly, these manifestations do happen. The difference is that these “doings” are better as an outgrowth of the core “being” in love and grace.

There are no tick marks for service. There is never a point at which we have “done enough” because the needs will always be greater than the workers to meet them. Even in Jesus’s time, this was true. [John 12:8] We do not get points with God by being inexhaustible Energizer bunnies.

O God, help me do my part today. And out of this part – love and grace – may a soul be touched, a heart opened, a wound healed.

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Whatever God gives, it’s given on purpose: salvation, forgiveness, healing, anointing, power, revelation, and more. All of these gifts are given according to his understanding of what is needed, when and why. Our leap of faith is accepting the timing.

Ephesians 1:7-8
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

It’s a trust issue. Do I trust God to give me what I really need or am I always looking for God to give me what I want in the moment?

And why is it so hard for me to remember that what I already have was given in the same spirit? I was redeemed 32 years ago. I had an epiphany, a revelation of the Christ and the necessity for the veil to be taken down. I was offered a relationship with God that was unlike any other relationship I had or would ever have in this 3-D world. I was invited to partake of the universal “Body.”

I needed that moment back then. And now, along the way, oh God, help me to see the other moments. Help me to recognize the gifts you gave and to return thanks. Help me to appreciate this path instead of complaining about the conditions of the way. There are so many other ways things could have gone.

If I were totally surrendered to your wisdom and understanding, I would know true joy. I still can, right? The invitation has never been snatched away. Today is just another example of the story we are making of my life.

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Print by Missy Mohn Schwartz

In how many ways do I have to be told that the essence of walking after Christ is birthed in the Spirit. This is an inside-out faith, not the outside-in. The law was created to initiate the “external” expression of faithfulness. The Messiah finished this work by planting it within.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

If I can operate in the center of love, joy, peace, etc. then the law is unnecessary because I wouldn’t break the essential laws (10 commandments at the least). One doesn’t lie or covet or kill someone we love or cherish. The gentle soul does not rage or participate in sexual orgies. Self-control brings all things under its umbrella.

At the same time, none of these Spirit fruits can be manufactured externally alone. I can’t act in a patient way without being patient. I can’t exhibit kindness without knowing what kindness is . . . or goodness. . . or peace. Love (in this context) is not just a that girly-boyfriend feeling, it’s “agape” and carries the deepest of meanings and expressions. There are inner motives that drive these fruits of the Spirit. They are fruits that must come directly off the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And as these fruits become ripe within, they become ready for harvest. And when they are harvested, they are distributed freely to all those around us. . . slave or free, gay or straight, black or white or brown or red or yellow or mixed media, Muslim or Hasidim, Mormon or Witnesses, young or old, male or female, . . .

If we are fruitless, then there is nothing to harvest and the only protection we have, the only way to curb our less admirable desires, is the law. First, there is the spiritual law that God gave as a covenant to the people. But, if that fails, then there is the secular law. Neither is particularly known for mercy or grace.

Perhaps we should be more like those cliche mothers who are reaching out encouraging others to “Eat, Eat, Eat,” or like Jesus, “Take, eat; this is My body.” [Matthew 26:26b]

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Paul is certainly confident as a prototype for believers: become like me, follow me, imitate me. Paul was a zealot before he met Christ and he was certainly one afterward. I could no more imitate him than I can imitate Christ. Ah, there’s the difference. . .

Galatians 4:12
I plead with you, brothers, become like me, . . .
I Corinthians 4:16
Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
I Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Philippians 3:17
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

To follow Paul is an outside/in method while following Christ is an inside/out endeavor.

Despite the freedoms Paul articulates as a follower of Jesus, having been a Pharisee for many years, he still had a very law-based mentality and world view. He was an administrator, an organizer. He could see how things would work out best. He loved his churches and he loved his people, but he did get frustrated. He was impatient. He continually aimed for perfection (Christ) and condemned himself often (not in a bad way, just as a confession) for missing the mark. He knew he was less than perfect and only Christ within made up the difference. Nonetheless, it was Paul who set up the churches with structure. He was an academic. He laid out the reasons for everything he said. He was a man of logic and reason. I’d say a good portion of our modern day churches have evolved out of the teachings and interpretations of Paul.

But when Jesus calls us to “follow him,” I think he is drawing us to the Kingdom. It is Jesus who consistently lays out the paradoxes of internal following. Everything is the opposite of what we would think: turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, going the extra mile, meekness is victor, weakness is strength and so on.

For Jesus it is not really “become LIKE me,” it’s become ME.

This is much more mysterious. When Jesus taught about “eating his flesh and drinking his blood,” a lot of disciples fled. This entire teaching on Jesus being the “bread of life” terrified most of his followers. [John 6:41-66] They fled because they understood, not because it was beyond them. Every time Jesus spoke bluntly about his intentions, there was an uproar.

With Jesus, what seems impossible is possible; what is lost can be found; what dies can be raised up.

In the face of these kinds of truths, do the outer trappings really matter: Robes or no robes, dunking or sprinkling, wine or grape juice, men or women, buildings or no buildings, and so on.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” [John 14:20]

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I love the idea of splendor. The word speaks of expansiveness and beauty. And to think, all earthly bodies have splendor. It is unfortunate our culture has narrowed human body splendor to a few superficial ratings. And worse, we often abuse our own wonder-filled creation.

I Corinthians 15:40
There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.

The body is neither to be worshiped nor desecrated. It is a vessel, a sponge, a unique invention, a tool, and a living organism. It is a gift.

All bodies have great potential when born.

Our first abuse is our habit of limiting the body. In the same way we limit the body, we also limit the mind and the spirit. Why don’t we teach our children to recognize the body for all that it can be and do?

It’s a wonder for today. That’s all. A wonder.

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Every time I hurt someone within the Body of Christ, even inadvertently, I am actually hurting myself. If I gossip against someone, I am dishonoring myself. If I ignore someone intentionally, I am cutting myself off. I am committing a slow suicide by poison.

I Corinthians 12:21, 26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” . . . If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I used to think of these verses as sharing in the sufferings of the saints. In other words, as others experience pain or sorrow, I share in that pain and thereby help the one who is hurting. But today, I see that I am part of the problem. And, more than likely, this truth applies to more than just the body of believers.

Psychologists say that the very things we complain about in others or “see” in the behaviors of others, these are our own bad habits as well. If we observe selfishness in others, we are probably acting selfishly ourselves. When we blanch at someone’s rudeness, chances are we are equally rude.

So, what do I do more than anything else? Judge others. And sure enough, I am also being judged. [Matthew 7:1] When am I going to get this?

I have never understood people, particularly teens, who cut themselves. They say it’s to “feel something” because they have become so numbed by emotional pain and depression. Am I hurting others with my judgments and “tongue” for the same reason? Do I think I will feel better by continuing in this habit?

Don’t I want love as much as the next person? Of course. Then, it’s time to radically change my weapons. It’s time to heal, to love, to mediate, to listen, to accept, to trust. It’s time to really love unconditionally the unlovely, the seemingly dishonorable, the broken.

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