I’m thinking a lot about the body these days. (My ACL recovery, pre-operation, is going really well thanks to so many people praying for me, and wise counsel from a variety of doctors, physical therapists, specialists, and friends.)
Specifically I’ve been thinking about how pain affects the body. When my knee hurts, it affects my whole body. That is, my hands, my elbows, and my eyes don’t "blow off" the pain in my knee. When there’s pain in one place, every other part of my body is affected. (Insert contemplative, "Hmmm.")
I was reminded of this quote from Seinfeld way back in 1991. He was talking about how pain is communicated in the media:
‘They always show you the human body, which is usually this guy: no face, mouth open. This is how drug companies see the public. And he’s always in, like, a certain pain. It’s like red wavy lines are going through him or he’s glowing. Parts of him are on fire sometimes. Lightning is attacking him. I’ve never had a doctor say to me, "Are you having any pain?" "Yes I am." "Are you having any lightning with the pain?" ‘
I don’t know a lot of people who rejoice over pain in their body. I don’t.
But God compares the church body to a human body. If you are a believer, I am connected to you; you are connected to me. If your church believes in salvation by faith, our church is connected to your church; your church to ours. We are connected.
So what do you do when another Christian, another part of the body of Christ, is going through suffering?
Every once in a while, I meet people who seem to be bordering on happy about other people’s suffering. They talk about it with a hint of a smile and a tinge of glee. Spiritual immaturity. Short-sightedness. Self-righteousness. Self-centeredness. (C’mon, Tim, shoot us straight!) That would be like having people on the basketball court three and a half weeks ago, my own teammates, stand over me and gloat that I tore my ACL. Classless. Crass. Base.
But we’re a body? How do I respond? How should I respond? My favorite passage on this is 1 Corinthians 12:20-27. Specifically the phrase…
"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it." (1 Corinthians 12:26)