Have you ever whacked your toes really hard? Man, o man, it colors everything.
Some years ago, I was hurrying through the house with a sassy pair of flip flops on and didn't realize until it was too late that the vacuum cleaner cord had gotten caught in my shoe and BAM! Not only was I down for the count, but I'd actually broken my toe.
Fortunately, I didn't break my vacuum cleaner. I love my vacuum cleaner.
But for a whole summer, I had to limit what I could wear because my toe just hurt. And it was limiting. If you are a fellow sole sister, you understand.
But that's what it's like when one part of the body is hurting. Other parts of the body ARE impacted. The whole body registers an impact when one part isn't functioning at maximum capacity. Choices are limited.
Same thing in the body of Christ. Here is how Paul puts it:
1 Corinithians 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Suffering parts can show up in a body as impaired function, infection, bruising, bleeding,..
How do suffering parts show up in the body of Christ? Rejection, lashing out, being mean, gossiping, demeaning others, lesser than behaviors, greater than behaviors...all kinds of things. Spiritual and relational BO.
So what do we do when we are presented with a suffering part? Dismiss it as their problem? We can dismiss it, but we can't really say it's just their problem according to scripture. Do we turn our face away because assisting them is just too much work or they may lash out at our attempt to care? That's an option. Would I appreciate someone choosing that option with me? Nope. I want people to love me enough to work with me through my ugly stuff. I want them to choose my growth over their inconvenience. To help me, not judge me, to be brave enough to tell me if my behavior is spiritually, relationally, or emotionally toxic and it doesn't have to be that way. In true love. Love that believes all things for me, hopes all things for me, never failing love. And that can only be done by the Holy Spirit. It's this type of loving I want to do with Him and for Him. I don't do it well every time. But every time I have a new chance to love better, potentially relieve suffering and maybe teach a new way of responding to pain.
What will you choose?