I’ve heard said that if anyone loses a little toe they can hardly walk; their balance is greatly affected. If we lose one eye, among other things, we have great trouble with depth perception.
Such loses strain the parts that remain and the rest of the body must adjust and compensate. Years ago, our oldest son lost two fingers in a sawmill accident. His mind often tells him that they are still there, but they are gone and he’s had to relearn how to do even ordinary tasks. He jokes that when typing his spelling goes haywire, but his loss is not funny.
The Bible uses the human body to illustrate the value and connections between members of Christ’s Body, the church. It says that every part has value, even that “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.”
This section from 1 Corinthians 12 says there “should be no schism” in the Body. Of course my body would not function worth a hoot if parts were cut off and separated from the rest. What about those who belong to Christ and are not involved in corporate worship and the work of the church? Regulars tend to think that the missing, the absentees, are the only ones who suffer, but God says the entire Body feels the loss. 1 Corinthians affirms this. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.”
Sadly, those active in the church hurt when someone working alongside them is hurting, but some of us have become numb to the fact that we also suffer when the drop-outs are suffering. They are part of the Body too. Do we miss them? Or have phantom pain?
My husband heard a statistic last week that the Christian church in North America prays less than any other part of the Body of Christ, and that we are among the weakest and least effective. Our failures affect the church in the rest of the world, just as what happens with them affects us. Perhaps part of the reason we are weak is our independence. We think we can do things all by ourselves. Another issue is our tendency to look down on those that ‘seem weak’ and have no value.
I’m concerned about the folks on the fringes, those who profess faith in Christ but are not involved. They don’t attend church, have little involvement with the rest of the Body, and seem to not walk with the Lord. Does God want more from me than concern? And if so, I’m not sure what can be done. I notice that some write them off, thinking their backsliding is “not my problem.” Not so. If they are truly members of the Body, what happens to backsliders affects the rest of us.
God started this year convicting me of the need to pray more, be more concerned for the spiritual lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Again He reminds me to support others in the Body, pray for them, encourage them, even depend on them, and never forget how much we need one another. He also reminds me to take care of those out on the edges. They are missing a great deal, including fellowship in God’s family. And I am missing them.