Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Devotional: The Body of Christ

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
New International Version (NIV)

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

John 13:1-15
Words of Christ in red

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."

How does having no other gods fit with the body of Christ metaphor, and Jesus washing his discipleship feet?

I'll preface this by saying that I have never been a fan of the anatomical metaphors that are popular with the bible. I know, that is probably flirting with blasphemy considering that Christ himself used such metaphors  Still, like i said, they don't relate to me well.

All that being said, the 'body' concept implies unity of purpose. With  God, there really can't be unity of purpose if you are following the edicts of another deity (real or imagined).

My take on the foot-washing story really centers on the part where he says "those who have had a bath need only wash their feet..." and so on. More or less, when you take care of yourself, cleaning is really a maintenance procedure, as opposed to a fully scrubbing. The "body of Christ" fits in here because it reminds us that we need to maintain all parts of it, and if we do, the upkeep is not as draining as if we waited for things to get really messy.

Honestly, the logic here holds out for me. When I was with the fire service, in corrections and part of engineering or project teams, we were all in-charge of taking care off each other. The team was really only as strong as its weakest link, and that was bore out time and time again. I'm not taking responsibly for other's laziness, but if I didn't invest effort into helping them keep themselves up to snuff... well I was partly culpable for their failures as well.

How does service to and with other Christians promote community?

Frankly, work is what communities do, at leas tin my opinion. Again, drawing on my time as a firefighter, we often worked together on tasks, partially to get them done, but also it helped work as a catalyst for us to better understand each other, get to know each other, and when it was all done, take ownership in our establishments.

The Christian community is no different in this respect. If we don't  work together  than we are cheating ourselves out of a powerful opportunity.

Okay, that's as much as I have on this. I'm not trying to be be a lightweight, but I really am not 100% sure how else to address these questions, though i am still relatively confident in my responses to them.

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