|Posted on May 9, 2019 at 9:55 AM|
One of the biggest obstacles keeping me from seeing the church Jesus is building today is the idea that certain people are too weak, ineffective, or simply "weird" to be a member of the body of Christ. I know that it takes all kinds of members to make up one body as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12, and I have seen a huge variety of believers over the years; but there are some people that just don't seem to fit. These are the ones who seem to be weak or tend to say and do things that embarrass me and make my group look bad. Paul called them the "feeble", the "less honorable", and the "uncomely parts". But he tells us they are necessary.
Using the metaphor of the body of Christ in describing the church Paul has demonstrated that the one body is made up of many members. He further says that each of the members are necessary for the healthy functioning of the body even though they are not the same. To emphasize the importance of each member of the body Paul includes those members which are not seen as being vital as well as those that are not seen at all, and even those "private parts" which we always keep covered. He insists that all are necessary to the over all functioning of the body and are put together by God so that there is no divisions or cliques so that all the members should have a mutual interest in and care for one another.
Those "feeble, "less honorable" and "uncomely" members of the body we would naturally avoid or even shun seem to serve a vital purpose in promoting the mission of the church Jesus is building. His new commandment to love one another the way he loves us includes even those who might embarrass us or distract us from "more important" tasks. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the church Jesus is building is designed to strengthen all the links. As Paul points out in another metaphor concerning the body of Christ in Ephesians 4: 16 the whole body is held together by "that which every joint supply". A "joint" in the body of Christ is the interaction between two members of the body. A loving relationship between two members of the body supplies the comfort and strength necessary for the body to function properly.
There is a natural tendency to view the various members of any local church through critical or judgmental eyes based on our human understanding of what is important to make the church look good. Those we consider "feeble", "less honorable", or "uncomely" are an embarrassment that needs to be eliminated or ignored. But considering the new command of Jesus to love like he does gives us an entirely different view of such members of the body. Not only are they necessary for the health of the body as a whole, they are deserving of the time and effort it takes to love them like Christ. As Jesus made it clear to the religious people of his day a failure to minister his love to the "least of these" is a failure to minister to him.
Loving the "least of these brethren" means that we practice the same relational ministry we would with other members of the body. In love we confront inappropriate behavior without condemning them, comfort them without enabling them, and support them without expectations. Above all, we recognize their value as a member of the body of Christ and respect their worth as the new person God has made them to be in Christ. Our willingness to believe the gospel about the "least of these" enhances our ability to believe it about ourselves.