Our bodies have many parts, but the many parts make up only one body when they are all put together. So it is with the “body” of Christ. Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ’s body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (TLB)
Diversity, particularly in the Body of Christ, is a strange thing, never uninteresting! Paul’s image of Christians all being different “body parts” which form the movement of God’s will being worked-out here on earth, is a common, but disturbing picture.
If I might be permitted to spiritualize this metaphor a bit further, if we are the body parts, what (or Who) is the blood that carries life-giving nourishment to those body parts? Certainly it is the Holy Spirit who permeates the movement of God’s will.
This is like the blood that flows to and through my fingers moving over my computer’s keyboard at this moment; that blood also brings life-giving oxygen and nutrients to the brain which sends messages down to the hand-writers. And let us not leave out the feet that brought me into the study this morning; and the eyes which made sure I didn’t stumble over Gracie the Wonder dog who was sleeping in the doorway.
As my blood is important to continue life in my human body, so is the Spirit vital to Christ’s bride, the Church, if she is to continue.
I would imagine Paul’s analogy of the Body of Christ speaks clearly enough for itself at this point, but let me state the obvious.
It’s Time to STOP THE BLEEDING!
If you consider how difficult it is for blood to do its work when it is spilled on the ground, think about what damage is done to the Church of God when the Holy Spirit is leaking onto the pew cushions and holy carpets we fight over?
To the Greek believers at Thessalonica, Paul cautioned, don’t quench the Spirit. To stretch our metaphor one more time, I believe Paul was making the case against amputation in the body of Christ. We tend to amputate those members of Christ’s body that are different from us. And we somehow fail to notice what horrendous assault we cause.
Quenching the Spirit is like slicing open a femoral artery…the blood spurts down our leg, and in traumatic shock, the warmth of the blood feels good; all the while life is leaving our amputated brother or sister in Christ we keep singing There is Power in the Blood; we don’t have a clue that we’re becoming weaker with each stanza. What we seem to fail to understand is that when you amputate anything there are two wounds, not one. It is not just the arm or leg lying on the ground; there is a gaping wound left where once the limb was attached. Those we deem unacceptable in our churches are somehow part of us because God brings “holy mixtures” into our lives. When we amputate there are two wounds, whether we see it or not.
It’s time to stop the bleeding!
Triage is the medical art of decision-making about survival probability, deciding who has a chance of living. It’s time for the body parts of the Church to decide to live…while we still can. Blood spilled on the political left, or religious right, is still gone from the body.
I do not believe there is a program, movement or motion at General Conference that can stop this bleeding. While the heart of the Methodist Church (or Baptist, or Episcopal, et al) is growing weaker for lack of the lifeblood of God’s Holy Spirit, no appeals to unity amidst our extant human diversity is going to replace repentance, one heart at a time. Repentance is not a few tears on the carpet at the front of the church; genuine repentance is born in the heart, but finds true regeneration for the soul in actions. We must (as John Wesley) give our hand to our brother.