The body of a human being is extremely intricate. In our body we have 206 bones and more than 600 muscles (How Many Body Parts Do Humans Have? (reference.com)). Some of our body parts are so small, but removing them would be catastrophic for the body as a whole. The human is the perfect example of what unity looks like. No body part is the same, but all are key in helping the body to function.
In the Body of Christ, God made each part to operate and have it’s own function. As it says in Romans 12:3-5 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
The Spirit gives grace as He wills, which is why we understand that members within a congregation have different gifts (teaching, prayer, mercy, encouragement etc.). We are united by the Spirit, so why does it seem that we as a Body are so divided? Why do some parts of the Body rejoice when the others are in pain?
Looking back at Romans 12:3 it is a reminder for members of the Body to not operate in pride and think of themselves higher than they ought to. When Jesus talks about pride, He mentions it as a sin that defiles us (Mark 7:20-22). Essentially, pride is a sin that corrupts us before God. Pride can become iniquity or sin that is premeditated, continuing, and escalating.
It is not anti-Gospel to look at history and be cognizant of the present. It is certainly not biblical to ignore other parts of the church when they are in pain.
We should understand God’s intention is that there is no division in the church (1 Corinthians 12:23-25) . That His love should propel us to care for our brothers and sisters. When other churches are struggling and in lament over issues that affect their congregation, that is not the time to try to call out bad theology or social theories. It is not anti-Gospel to look at history and be cognizant of the present. It is certainly not biblical to ignore other parts of the church when they are in pain.
1 Corinthians 12:26 is a call for the church as a Body to suffer together with the parts that are hurting. That doesn’t just mean to pray with these parts of the Church (which is absolutely needed), but to enter into the pain and approach the issue alongside them.
For example, one of the biggest oppositions to the Church posed by nonbelievers is the staunch history of racism in the Church. Not only did many Christians allow slavery, segregation, redlining, gerrymandering, racial profiling and many more acts of racial injustice to persist, they were perpetrators themselves. Also, many not just look at the history, but at the total ignorance some Christians have to relevant racial disparities and injustice today. I see that and I feel for those people.
Nevertheless, the Bible is clear: partiality in any form is a sin (James 2:1-13). Whether it’s perpetrated by a Christian or an atheist does not matter. If you are using your favorite politicians’ quotes to justify systemic racism, we are clearly missing important pieces of the Gospel. We are called to bear the burdens of our neighbors and in that fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Yes, even though our theology should inform our politics, many Christians have allowed their politics to inform their theology
In Galatians, Paul confronts Peter when he separates from the Gentiles because of his fear of the Jewish party (Galatians 2:11-14). Peter knew that Gentiles did not need to be circumcised to be saved; that grace is through faith alone (Acts 10:10-16). He let fear pull him away from doing the right thing and in doing that, he led other Jews astray (Galatians 2:13). The problem lies in that many Christians have done the same.
In the modern age, we have misunderstood what love for our neighbor looks like because of our love for politics. Yes, even though our theology should inform our politics, many Christians have allowed their politics to inform their theology. This leads to broken hearts, unfed mouths, and idolatry. Whether this is informed by fear, anger, ignorance, or hate the result is the same. Ultimately, our theology should not steal away our witness of the Gospel.
My questions to all Christians is do you actively love your brothers and sisters? Can you empathize with them? Are you loving in words or in deeds and truth? Do you see the tears of your black Christian brother who mourns over the loss of another black life? Are you caught up in the love of your neighbor and God or the love of the empire and power? As shown by Peter, one action out of step with the Gospel can lead others to do the same. Loving others is not just empathizing, but also stepping into the pain of our spiritual siblings. We should learn, listen, and act against injustice because that’s what Scripture shows us to do (Matthew 6:1-2, Job 31:23, Proverbs 31:8-9). Every day, we make a choice to share love with others or withhold it. We should always do the latter.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
1 John 3:18 ESV