Sometimes, I seriously wish I could eat a whole bucket of sugary chocolate desserts and have them just affect my tastebuds—not my pancreas or my stomach or my brain, who don’t handle sugar super well. Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if we could pick and choose what parts of our body are affected by the things we consume or what we do? Like if running could just burn in my legs, but not hurt my lungs, which is MUCH more uncomfortable…
Unfortunately, the things we do and what we consume have a much more widespread effect than just on the parts we wish they would. And the same is true for the Body of Christ, of which we are all members.
Ephesians 4:25 tells us that, “putting away falsehood, each one is to speak the truth with his neighbor, because we are members of one another.” The Message version expands on this concept by saying that “in Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
It can be so easy to isolate our perception of ourselves within the Body of Christ—to say that what the hand does will not have any effect on the foot, since they’re so far apart, or called to such different things. But we are all one Body, under one Head. When we conduct ourselves poorly with someone, it not only affects the other person—it affects us as well, and those connected to us.
Think about this: what is the actual sensation of pain?
One medical article describes pain this way: “Pain is felt when special nerves that detect tissue damage send signals to transmit information about the damage along the spinal cord to the brain. […] The brain then decides what to do about the pain.”
So within the Body of Christ, pain among the members transmits up to the brain. To the head. To Christ.
Therefore, if the Body cuts itself down, can it do so without harming the Body as a whole? And can it even feel the pain of harming itself without that pain going directly to the Head—which is Christ?
When division is sown within the Body, when we wound ourselves and the other members, when we pull the Body in all different directions, this pain is not only felt by the immediate people associated with the issue. It has a ripple effect, and one of those effects is the pain it causes Christ, as the Head. Our pain transmits to him.
There will always be pain caused to the Body. Some of it will not be within our control. But we are specifically called to speak the truth with each other because we are members of one another. We are joined, linked together by sinew and muscle and bone and tissue. The pain of our brothers and sisters, our fellow members, is our pain. And when we cause harm to one another, we cause harm to ourselves, to those around us who are collateral of our strife—and to Jesus.
So as much as it is in our power, let’s keep the connectivity forefront in our hearts and minds. Let’s be mindful of the Body we share with all other Christians. And let’s do our best not to grieve the holy spirit of God, or to wound Christ with our behavior.
And let’s speak the truth in love to one another, so that our words and actions are healing and helpful, not harmful, to this Body of which we are all members in particular.