Splinter in the toe? Just chop off your foot, right?

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:4-5.

Today’s verse is one of those that is used over and over again in the church, always focusing on how every member of a church has different skills and gifts. Some of this concept is continued in 1 Corinthians 12, talking about spiritual gifts.

For instance, one person may be very good speaker. He would represent the mouth. Others might be very strong at skilled labor or outdoor work–that could be the back or shoulders. Others might be compassionate and kind in serving others by doing housework for the elderly or making meals for the sick; they would be the hands.

Every person in a church has a different set of skills or a gift that God has given them, and no one should look down on someone else’s gift. Because they’re all important. One of the best lines in the King James version of the Bible comes out of the passage in 1 Corinthians 12:

 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  

(Sorry. That verse just makes me giggle.)

I love thinking about the church as being a unified Body. I think that’s one of the reasons I love the Judgement House ministry at NewSpring so much. It uses every gift a church body possesses, whether it’s acting or praying or standing all night long or organizing or counseling or being able to ladle chili and cheese over fritos. It doesn’t matter what your gift is, there’s a place for you in Judgement House. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Body of Christ more engaged than in this crazy, awesome ministry. And I don’t think it’s ever been more obvious how important even the “small” roles are; because Judgement House doesn’t work if one of its parts is missing.

But as I was reading this very this morning, a part stuck out to me that I hadn’t thought about before.

“. . . we all belong to each other.”

It’s true, of course. I mean, look at a body. How could I say that my hands belong to someone else? Or that someone else’s feet are mine? Granted, in American idiom we say that we have our mother’s eyes or our father’s hair, but those are figures of speech. I mean, I know people who have organs who were donated (right, Gramps?), but even if those aren’t the organs we were born with, we still consider them ours, don’t we?

It should be the same in a church. If we’re all called to work together to accomplish something for God, we can’t be divided. God left us all here for a reason, and we have to work together with Him to get it done.

There may be people in the church who you don’t get along with, but they are still a part of the body of Christ . . . and they belong to you just like you belong to them. We need to get our heads around this concept because Satan is ever trying to divide us. He makes us focus on our differences and on how much we disagree with each other or what we disapprove of in others–but if we all believe and follow Jesus Christ, we are called to unity.

We need to keep the main thing, the main thing. Jesus is Who is important. Not our pasts. Not our preferences. Not our appearances.

Now am I saying that we need to make allowances for the sins of other believers? Absolutely not. Sin is sin and should be treated as such, but how do you treat a believer who has sinned? Do you shun them? No. You confront them lovingly, realizing that but for the grace of God go you. No one down here is immune from sin, and the only reason you aren’t in their place is the grace of God. So don’t cut them off or think badly of them. You aren’t in their shoes. So how do you know where they are in their walk with God? If they say they believe in Christ, treat them like your brother or your sister and pick them up and help them get back on the path.

If your hand is wounded, do you chop it off? No. You put a bandaid on it. You stitch it up. You put oitments and salves on it so it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Wouldn’t the same thing be true for a fellow believer?

And this is getting more and more important the further time goes on, the longer we’re here. We can’t afford to keep lopping off parts of our body and expecting that we will be able to accomplish the same amount of work. That’s psychotic. If you chop off your leg, you won’t be able to walk well. It’s the same with the church. The church–meaning Christians–can’t alienate people just because they don’t agree on a simple irrelevant point. It would be like cutting off your own thumb or your big toe; they may be small parts but try picking stuff up or walking without them and you’ll see how important they are.

We’re all in this together. And we belong together. And we belong to each other. And if we can wrap our heads around that, imagine what God could do! Imagine what God can do with a truly unified Body of Christ, not divided by denomination or preferences, but united in Christ, the one Person who really matters.