Another thing the body metaphor should teach us is that we are parts of the whole. This had so many applications, it is mind-boggling.
The church is made up of many parts. Those parts are people. And those parts – young, old, male, female, every tribe, every language – are the body of Christ. There is no group, no sub-group, no individual person that can be written off, excluded or disregarded.
When I was younger, I sprained an ankle. More recently, I have suffered a bout of gout. Both caused quite a bit of pain in the affected limb. I couldn’t walk correctly. Opening and moving through doors was a problem. One part of my body was affected, and it had a ripple effect throughout my whole body.
I had kidney stones. A kidney is internal, and unseen. It goes about its job without fanfare, praise of even, awareness on the part of the rest of the body. But when the stone moves, the kidney becomes center stage. It calls the shots for the entire body.
If one part of the Body does not function fully, wholly, in joy, in love, in the Holy spirit, the body cannot work well.
If a person puts sugar in the gas tank of a car, if a person eats a McDonalds-only diet, if a person is surrounded by pain, ugliness and neglect, these engines – the car the human body and the human spirit – will not function, or will function very poorly.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A church is only as strong as its weakest part.
In the US, we tend to judge the strength of a church by its size, by the charismatic qualities of its leaders, and by its well-oiled ministry machinery. We ought to be looking for the least fruitful, least mature, least popular among the church members. We ought to look at their lives in the midst of the Body, and in the midst of society.