“As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has a different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.”
A few weeks ago I was talking with my good friend Camille who is in Princeton Seminary to become a Presbyterian minister. We went on a Salvation Army mission trip to the Ukraine five years ago and have maintained a relationship—based on mutual respect and taunting—ever since. She finds the Army amusing; the terminology, the uniform, bureaucracy and generally unpolished portrayal of the Gospel. I went to her Presbyterian church in Nashville a few years ago and, likewise, found her church to be a source of curiosity and entertainment; their robed clergy, immaculately clean buildings, well dressed attendants and generally stoic congregation. When we catch up, we brutally tease the other’s denomination, making our case with what little evidence we have.
Predictably, she teased me when we last spoke: “What is the deal with The Salvation Army? Ya’ll Salvationists are nuts, trying to save the world with a few out of shape soldiers, a tattered old flag, and a brass band!” I thought about it for a moment and rebutted with part of a message I heard Captain Steven Court share at a conference a few months ago: “The Salvation Army is just part of the body of Christ, the body that was commanded to win the world for Jesus. The Salvation Army is just a small part of that body. We are the fist!” Camille was silent on the other end of the phone and as I prepared myself to finally convert her to Salvationanity I heard a small giggle crescendo into a full-belly cackle. “The fist huh? Oh, that’s great, you’re the fist!” Slightly embarrassed, I asked her what part of the body the Presbyterians are, she coolly answered, “If you’re the fist, then we’re the wallet.”
Have you ever really thought about what Body part you are? I mean, the author of Romans makes it clear that Christ designates your Body part as having “a special function” (vs. 4). I think the all encompassing “Church” gets this idea. Liberals, Evangelicals and Charismatics (forgive me for using these generalities) embrace their special functions, often times to a fault. A problem arises whenever the Body of Christ is dissected, for one thing is true when a body is dissected, that body is dead! What I think the Church needs to do is swallow the harder pill, verse 5, where it says “we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” It’s often said that the Body of Christ spends more time fighting itself than it does fighting the Enemy.
Guess what? We need the Body of Christ and Christ wants us all to work together: Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, Salvationists, Nazarenes and any other denomination that is Biblically centered on the Gospel of Christ, his death and resurrection. These parts were shaped for serving God. I need Camille’s wallet just as much as she needs my fist.