Many of us are well-acquainted with the metaphor that Paul employs in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 of the diverse body parts being grafted together into a unified, fully functional whole body, the body of Christ. Most would also readily identify the active agent for this “grafting into one process” as the Holy Spirit, which the text clearly details. It is our Father’s intention and desire that every member should seamlessly join with the others to complete His design of a perfectly integrated church body. Each piece is uniquely fitted to contribute just what is needed so that while there is indeed diversity by necessity, there ultimately is unity in function by design.
Bringing disparate parts (individuals) together into one body and keeping them there without problems and complications can be challenging. This is as true for the church as it is in medicine. Without careful preparation and effort, various members of the body can work against each other, causing rejection and failure. In surgical grafting/transplantation, we employ medication (immunosuppressants) to suppress the rejection of each individual graft by the body’s immune system. This allows for healing and full integration of the parts to effectively work together for the good of the whole body.
Our Father utilizes the same approach to prevent similar problems in the body of His Church … and your church. The Holy Spirit is, once again, the active agent. He alone can provide the only thing that can ensure that rejection, discord and problems between the various individual parts (people) will not succeed in causing failure in the unified body. He can provide full dosing of the love of Jesus. It seems to be a universal truth that, in our church bodies and affiliated organizations, sooner rather than later, “rejection” issues occur. Some members take issue with other members over something—anything—and localized irritation and inflammation builds that, if not treated quickly and correctly, can lead to toxic consequences that spread and threaten the spiritual life not only of the individuals involved, but also the entire body can suffer irreversible loss.
The solution is stated simply by Jesus in John 15:12, “Love each other as I have loved you.” Simply stated ... but the daily application is the challenge. To love as Jesus loves is the only spiritual “immunosuppressant” to the rejection issue among the individual parts of the body of Christ. The application requires only one thing on our part, but it is the only thing that inspiration tells us we can do, and that is to daily, unreservedly submit our will to Him. To die, as Paul said, to self. Implicit in that is a daily rebirth through the Holy Spirit, which allows us to begin to love like Christ. Loving others as Jesus does is where everything must start; for without this, everything else, no matter how well-intentioned and how strenuously we try, the effort will always fall short and fail.
By Dr. Randall R. Phillips, Health Ministries Coordinator
for the Southwestern Union and Texas Conference