On the body…

22 Sep

I don’t like feeling needy.

I would guess that most of us don’t. In fact, many of us spend much of our lives trying to get to the point where we feel like we don’t have to depend on anyone but ourselves.

That is madness.

Think for a moment about the way God has designed the church. God doesn’t give all the gifts to one individual, but instead he gives the gifts out to different people in such a way that every single believer needs help from others in the church.

Quoting Calvin,

“God, therefore, to correct the pride and presumption that are too deeply rooted in man’s nature has so dispensed his gifts in certain proportion that every man well perceives that he is bound and indebted to him for the things he has received, and that there is no such perfection in himself that he can do without other men.”

We have been given gifts to help others, yes; but they have been given gifts to help us and we won’t be the people God wants us to be or used in the way God wants to use us unless we are happy to borrow from other men and be humble enough to receive help from them. In other words, we can’t help much if we aren’t willing to receive much help.

One of the ways Paul stresses this is by comparing the church to a body.

Again Calvin,

“He takes the similitude of a man’s body to show that we are completely out of our minds when each one of us despises his neighbors and is taken up with himself.”

Completely out of our minds. I like that.

Our hand doesn’t think of itself apart from the body. There’s no brain in the finger that tells it what to do. There’s not one part of our body that thinks of itself as an individual. Our hands, our feet, they are happy to serve the rest of the body. They never wake up and says you know what, today it’s just going to be about me!

Calvin writes,

“If there is any ache, if there is any infirmity, or if there is any other need, the hand is always flying from one side to the other, now up, now down, and is continually occupied. The feet also, without having any other understanding than simply the secret self moving of nature, can bear up the rest of the body and are never loath to do it. Similarly the hand does not disdain to borrow help from other members, as knowing full well that it is not able to keep itself alone.”

The hand doesn’t wake up in the morning with its own agenda. If it does, we have got problems. The hand exists for the good of the body and body exists for the good of the hand. There’s not a single part of the body that is the whole body by itself, instead God has so put the body together that every part needs the others.

Which is exactly what he done with the church. God doesn’t want anyone to try to be the whole body by himself, but instead has so gifted one to be hand and another to be a finger and another to be a leg. He has designed the church in such a way that if any one of us thinks we can do it by ourselves, we will soon be a “rotten member” and if left by ourselves to long, we’ll die out.

Needing others isn’t weakness. Feeling needy is being sane. Not feeling needy is really the problem. It’s a kind of spiritual madness.


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