Body Image Malady
“Body image” is a serious struggle for many people. Some people have genuine and hindering ideas about themselves that just don’t jive with reality. For example, a person may think they are overweight when, in reality, they are under their medically prescribed ideal weight.
I think that many Christians suffer from another kind of “body image” struggle. They view themselves as independent from “the body of Christ,” i.e., the local church. They somehow think that they can go it alone, do their own thing, or direct their own “ministry.” Somehow, they envision themselves as healthy and successful without any significant connection to the local church of God’s appointing. That idea is about as foreign to the Bible as the idea that you can view yourself as the exact opposite of reality.
This is a real and present threat to the well-being of many believers’ lives. They pay lip service to the “universal” church but have no substantive relationship, accountability, or participation in the local church. I’ve watched through the years as various Christian organizations called themselves “para-church” ministries, with a greater emphasis on “para” and very little emphasis on “church,” fizzle out and die because the church is God’s plan for building the body of Jesus on earth. Cut off from the local church is to suffer with a disruptive body image malady.
One of the sweeping images of the church in the New Testament is that we are “one body.” We are, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, “the body of Christ.” His appeal is for us to take responsibility for the care and health of the body.
One of the stunning realities of the concept of the church as a body is that we are actually able to achieve what the world cannot. We are ONE BODY with breathtaking DIVERSITY. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (v. 12,13)
We are ONE because we share a deep and real spiritual bond through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. How much closer could you get than being members of one body? And in sharing this spectacular oneness, we get to care for one another. We take responsibility for one another’s well-being as members of the same human family do.
We need each other (v. 19–21). We respect each other (v. 22–25). We encourage each other (v. 26). And all of this “member equity” protects and promotes the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Or, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, there should be “no division” among us as Christians. A body or a mind divided against itself is unwell and needs to be healed.
One of the reasons I love the church as the body of Jesus Christ is because when the church is healthy, NO ONE is left behind. Paul envisions the church as a place where “members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
See you on Sunday, church family, when we dive deeper into this topic of unity in diversity.