Agonizomai: 1Cor 12:26 - Unity in Action

Monday, August 04, 2008

1Cor 12:26 - Unity in Action

26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Where have I ever seen this sort of caring and unity within the church? Where have I ever seen it within myself? I have not but the faintest and most coldly doctrinal perception of this truth. It cannot be meant for us to receive simply as an ideal to be thought of, but not experienced - as if it were some porcelain treasure in our grandmother’s china cabinet, to be seen and not touched. It must surely be more visceral, more tangible, more realisable than that.

True, I cannot see the hearts of others, to know what their motivations and innermost thoughts and feelings are. Only God can see those things with absolute clarity. But I have seen so little external evidence of it in the churches I have attended. Maybe if I exhibited more then I would see more - and that would be a fair criticism. But I cannot deny how far what I have seen in the church falls short of what this verse speaks, starting with me.

Sure, there is kindness and empathy and sympathy and a degree of help for the labouring - and there is some rejoicing with those who receive blessings and honour from the hand of God, no matter the means He uses. But it is all far too infrequent and much too tepid most of the time.

Instead of more logs on the fire burning more brightly, we so often are like damp twigs and grass knocking the fire down to a mere smoulder. And, seemingly, we are satisfied with it all. As a community we are neither hot nor cold. Is it lack of persecution? Is it lack of salvation? Is it lack of sound preaching and teaching? Is it allowing unbelievers to enter through the broad gate and take up residence among us, welcoming them as members when they have no real evidence of true regeneration? Is it all of these things and more - what might be categorized as the loss of our first love?

Undoubtedly there will be some quiet, faithful saints - perhaps more than I imagine - who will shake their heads imperceptibly and just keep on keeping on doing what I fail to see. I have always loved that humble, unheralded, silent service in others whenever I have been privileged to "accidentally" glimpse it.

I know, I know... Ask not what the church can do for me - ask what I can do for the church (to misquote John Kennedy). The Christian life is not lived in looking to what others have not done or seeking out their failures and shortcomings. The question God will ask each of us is not what our neighbour did, but what did we make of Christ? There is one Master and it is to Him that we must all stand or fall, according to our lives lived in the body.

But none of that detracts from the fact that God is concerned enough with how we all interact to inspire many passages on the subject for us to read and for His ministers and teachers to declare before men, especially those professing to be disciples. This is the way God works in the church and in the world - the Truth is declared and men are commanded to obey it; and those who have ears to hear hear it.

If, therefore, I do not suffer when a brother suffers, or rejoice when he rejoices, it is upon my head, for I have no excuse. Let me walk in it not by trying to work up what I do not have, nor to feel what I cannot feel - but by looking to Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, even as I strive to be still and have Him formed in me.


Post a Comment

<< Home