Why is the Body of Christ such Good News?
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Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)
Parking my hand-me-down Chevy Vega at the high school each morning reminded me of my place among my peers. In my mind, the shiny convertible BMWs and Alpha Romeos screamed “You farm girl outsider!” Although I excelled academically and athletically (yes, cheerleading is a sport!), I didn’t live in a prestigious Miami suburb or share that lifestyle. Feeling ‘less-than’ impacted my self-image well into my 30’s.
Belonging to a well-functioning body of Christ would have sounded like good news – each member equal, valued and essential. The Apostle Paul’s original audience also proclaimed it as Good News (aka the Gospel).
The hierarchical class structure of 1st century Greco-Roman culture assigned status according to your family name or your association with a social group. The entire family or group held the same status, worked together to maintain that status, and knew their rank compared to others. Maintaining your family’s place above another or advancing upward required constant striving. Every decision brought either honor to your family or a shameful status demotion.
Does this exhausting striving to achieve sound familiar?
Funding a large civic project assured long-lasting recognition. By associating with and doing favors for such a wealthy patron as his sponsored client, one could achieve higher status. A client boasted loudly about his patron’s accomplishments, both to boost his patron’s status and to gain importance as the patron’s associate.
Most people in the 1st century Roman Empire were barely subsisting and a third of the population were slaves in a system very different from American slavery. A man might fall into debt, sell himself into slavery, yet still live with his family. When the debt was repaid, he might choose to remain forever in the service of his master or become a freedman. Unfortunately the shame of having been a slave never wore off.
Because Jesus treated every person equally, the outcast embraced Jesus’ radical message. When Paul’s young churches adopted this body-of-Christ model, the loving acceptance especially appealed to those at the low end of the power spectrum. No more striving for position! Even the powerful felt freedom from keeping up appearances.
Join us! We can’t be whole without you! Every member is just as important as our most generous donor.
Good news? You betcha!
Last week I encouraged you to recognize your own value as an equal and necessary member of Christ’s body. Today, I challenge you to look around.
Is there someone who needs to receive this validating, loving Good News?
When we welcome the poor, the prisoner, or the stranger into our community, we invite Jesus himself. We are one body, one family, brothers and sisters of Christ and each of us has an important purpose.
Read earlier posts about how Jesus upends the Empire in the 1st and 21st centuries. His Kingdom has a completely different power pyramid.
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Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NLT)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
I think it’s in the realization that we are to become servants of the Lord, and thus servants to one another that we abandon all semblance of “Who’s Who among the Church”. It’s the folks who never quite grow that far in their faith that we must constantly pray for and try to help them find the joy in serving others. We can do that by inviting everyone to join with us in service projects, etc. I try and make it a point to join with those on both ends of the “social spectrum” so they can see there’s no difference in how I treat them, and there should be no difference in how they treat one another. Great post ma’am.