The human body is amazing. Each part of our body has a certain function. But what is interesting is how every part is connected. This summer, I attended physical therapy for TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, where I gained a new appreciation for just how connected everything is. There, I learned that our back, shoulders, and neck can all be reasons for jaw pain (among many other reasons, including stress). One of the reasons for my TMJ was that some of the muscles in my neck and shoulders were working harder than they should while others were not working hard enough. This produced stress on my jaw muscles, causing pain. It is fascinating how one muscle can compensate for another muscle which is not working properly. And muscles are not the only part of our body that compensate for others. One eye or ear can see or hear better than the other. Some people are deaf in one ear, but can hear out of the other ear.
However, what is most intriguing is when one sense begins to compensate for another sense. For example, before I had Lasik years ago, I relied more on my hearing. I didn’t realize I had relied so heavily on my hearing until after Lasik. Then, suddenly I realized that I wasn’t hearing as well or listening as much. While I used glasses and contacts to correct my vision, my hearing was still helping me more than I knew. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the correction was only temporary while I used corrective lenses. It was simply what I knew and lived with. Learning all these things about the body makes me agree with the psalmist when he said he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
To me, it is fascinating how our body works and what our senses can do, but it also raises questions. The Church is called the Body of Christ by Paul (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Ephesians 3:6, and Colossians 3:15). Several of these passages urge believers to get along because they are supposed to be operating as one body. A couple of the passages mention that there were Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) together in the church. Before the development of the early church, Jews were expected to live separate from the Gentiles. Before Jesus came, these two groups didn’t worship the same God, and they had dietary and other lifestyle differences. They were very different, yet Paul called them the body of Christ.
What does that mean for me today? The truth is, I am still processing that question. How do I live this truth in my friendships and church relationships? It makes me wonder what it would look like if a church lived like they were a body. What would it look like if we knew how to work so closely together that we could step in when needed and encourage each other, compensating for each other’s weaknesses? What about our friendships and other relationships outside of church—how does being the Body of Christ affect those relationships?
To truly live as one body requires authentic community. If we don’t know each other, then how can we know what someone else needs? It also requires us to be vulnerable, which is always hard. Nevertheless, the rewards of that type of living sound like they would be worth the risk.
While I don’t have all the answers, I have seen some examples of the body working together. People providing meals for those who are hurting is one way to make a difference and be part of the body. I have experienced being included and invited multiple times to join activities by friends at church. Whether it’s an invitation for a women’s retreat or to come join a group, these invitations make me feel cared for, which is also part of being the body.
How are you living as part of the Body of Christ?
Rachel Roen enjoys learning, traveling, and spending time with friends. She completed a Master’s degree and is looking forward to the next adventure God has in store for her.