For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
– Romans 12:3-8
“When Christians say that the Christ-life is within them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being ‘In Christ’ or of Christ being ‘in them’, this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts – that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His Body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spread of an idea; it is more like evolution – a biological or superbiological fact. There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not; He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Each of us could discuss the various body parts and their function. A few parts are redundant. We could lose one and still function. But many body parts are one of a kind. In another C. S. Lewis quote, I think from his essay “Membership”, he talks about how as a Christian, we are sinew within the arm or leg or heart, not the body part as a whole. It is like membership being more the cells of the body than what we think of as body parts. Thus, a church might be an arm.
The Scripture breaks down spiritual gifts as being a delineating factor as to which ‘body part’ we belong. Paul mentions prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy. Some may choose to say that giving is not their gift, so they will leave that one to others, but don’t be too quick to draw that conclusion. We all must give, but to those who have an abundance and a heart for giving, they should give even more. Also note that each of us may have all the above from time to time. We may simply not have them all at the same time. That would be a bit too much for a mortal soul.
I like how Lewis melded the spiritual with the natural. We are amphibians, as Lewis comments in other quotes. We are both spiritual beings and physical beings. When we consider things from a spiritual perspective, we can lose this world in our minds for a moment, but the physical world always drags us back down to earth again. And as Lewis hints at the end of the quote, it is usually to raid the refrigerator. I seem to always end my meditation with a snack or a meal.
We could think of it in the opposite direction. If our new bodies are eternal, why is there so much reference to dining in Heaven?
I think that Jesus saw mothers like my wife. We could each have our own thing in our own corner of the house, but meal time was together time. If you took snap shots of our family throughout the day, you would rarely catch us together. My wife had her crafts, her music, her television, and her housework. I was usually on the computer trying to write a novel or short story. Our older son started cutting paper and creating these elaborate designs, just to find out that he was inventing a new game – at a very early age. Our younger son was into music. He knew how to turn on the modular stereo system at the age of one year. By high school, he was playing any musical instrument you tossed in his direction. There was interactions between the members of the family, all four of us, but the only certainty for getting all four in one room at one time was around the dinner table, maybe all three meals on the weekends. We prayed. We talked. We laughed. We were together.
Many families have lost that with the modern conveniences of heating food in the microwave and with watching television or spending time on the computer, either work or play.
I love the television commercial where everyone is sitting around the table, but they are all on their cell phones, until Mom blocks the signal. They all gasp, but within a few seconds, they are connecting and making eye contact. Yes, it is just a commercial for a cellular phone service that gives you that option, but am I the only one noticing how the art of communication is dying? When I graduated college, there was no such degree as ‘Communication’. Now there is a degree by that name, but most of those who hold that degree are busy creating distractions that break down how we used to communicate, eye to eye and talking.
If we are to be a single body, the body of Christ, we need to communicate. The cells in our body communicate. As Lewis might say, God invented it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.