What does it mean to belong to something? If we think of a puzzle, clearly this or that piece belongs to the other pieces, in the sense that without them, the puzzle is incomplete. Similarly, take the power supply that is typically found within a desktop computer. It is a rather large, “boxy” component that powers every other part within the machine. Obviously, it belongs in its proper place, attached to all the necessary ports and wires. Without the power supply, the computer is useless. You could use the power supply to power something else that requires a similar load, but that is not the purpose it was created to fulfill. The tires of your car belong on the wheels or rims of your car. You could alternatively use your tires to make a few tire-swings in your backyard, but your car becomes useless & incomplete. Some neighbor kids might get an hour of fun out of the swings, but you’re not getting anywhere in that car, at least not very far.
The point is, the tires belong on the wheels, the power supply in the computer, and the last puzzle piece belongs to the puzzle, making it whole, complete, and/or beautiful. With these examples in mind, it’s clear that each thing could be rendered useless even in their respective spot if some other piece was missing (another puzzle piece, a hard drive, the engine). If these things were sentient beings that could think about their role in the whole, they would be able to recognize that they are important, only insomuch as they fulfill their role in the whole. Some pieces may seem more important only relative to their absence from the whole. All roles are equally important in fulfilling or completing the whole. Each puzzle piece, computer part, or car part need the other pieces and parts to work at 100%. Sure, you could be content with a puzzle missing one piece or a computer with one less stick of RAM or a car without doors – but all of these things would be a lot better or worth more if all the pieces and parts were there, playing their role in the whole.
Let us think through yet another example. This time – a fast-food restaurant. One employee’s role is the cook. At this restaurant, there is only one cook. The cook decides to call off. Would it make sense for the restaurant to stay open? Not at all. The cook calling off means the cashier can’t work, the managers have nothing to manage, and so on. Nobody gets paid and if this were to go on long-term the restaurant would be forced to close its doors indefinitely.
Typically, a well-run restaurant has fail-safes in place. Multiple people with the same role, able to pick up when one person is moving too slow, or another calls off. Every role doesn’t seem as important when the restaurant is running smoothly. However, if the cashiers all call off and the manager has to run the cash register, they cannot properly manage the rest of the staff. Then a chain reaction occurs, and two out of three of the cooks are moving slower than normal (when the manager is barking orders at them), and the person in the drive-thru window is scrolling through Instagram. The whole system falls apart and it becomes abundantly clear that each role is equally important and essential.
Strategically the managers schedule the right number of people for each role, depending on how busy the place gets at certain times or on special days. Maybe they only need one cook at 3 am, but five cooks during lunch time. At any moment if half of the staff gets the flu, the restaurant could quickly gain a reputation for having bad service due to the lack of staff. This problem could also arise if the staff is poorly trained, or if overall the restaurant ethos is one of ill-concern. You obviously cannot plan for everything, but when you can be present, you should give every role your very best effort.
Now when we look at the body of Christ, we can quickly draw all the parallels. We each have been given a gift by the Lord. So, we each have a role to fulfill within our ministry efforts. Each role is no less important than any other.
We could easily lose sight of our importance. It makes sense that from time-to-time we fall short of fully delivering in our role. We are not perfect, so we cannot expect to perfectly contribute in our God-given role. However, it is our duty to try to fill our role, with our best-foot-forward. With each of our roles being mutually important, we must band together to complete the puzzle, to make the car go far, to get the computer running as well as possible. We must be willing to play our role, even when we don’t feel like it. With each of us being essential to the rest of us, we must live as if we belong to one another. In so doing, our body will be healthy and will thrive.
When a body’s parts all work together as they were intended, the body is considered to be healthy. For an athlete, and we’ll talk about a runner as an example, health is very important (yes, health is important to all, but if your life revolves around sport and competition, it becomes much more important.). When a runner prepares for a race, they have hope that their brain will send the correct signals to the legs to correctly take every step. In fact, a healthy runner wouldn’t even think about it because they would be certain everything is working correctly. In a race, the stride, the way you breathe, the way you move your arms, the strategy as to when you will speed up or slow down and how you will take the next corner are all equally important. An experienced runner doesn’t have to think about most of these things all that much – they’ve trained for weeks, maybe months, they know how their body will perform and they can count on that not changing. In fact, after so much training, if race day arrived and that morning you rolled your ankle, it would be devastating, you’d have to forego running that race and miss out on the all-so-sought-after medal.
Likewise, every person and their specific gifting/role are all equally important and necessary. Our lives must be connected in a way much more significant than just showing up to meetings. We must know what’s going on with each other. We need fail-safes just like the fast-food restaurant. If one person can’t teach the meeting one week – having someone else be ready, willing, and competent enough to take over is significant.
As Christians, each of us should be willing to love any other member of the body (and any other person in general). Meaning we support each other and hold each other up. We should run to help when another is down. Just like if an actual body was suddenly missing a leg, the person that body belongs to would be very aware of the missing limb. Similarly, when the body of Christ is unified and one person goes missing or decides not to satisfy their role, we all feel the deficit. It can be just as devastating as having to (in the case of the athletic runner) skip the race because we sincerely care about and need that person and feel the loss of their absence or delinquency.
Just as in the fast-food example, we should be able to achieve a state where no role seems more important than any other because all roles are filled, and each person is contributing all that they can in the role they were given by God. You should be aware of how vital your role is that when you are missing, you are equally missed.
“Maybe you’re the big toe on the runner in the race, but guess what? Without the big toe, that runner wouldn’t even be able to run in the first place! Only way you’re going to find out what body part you are, is if you’re involved in SERVICE.”
We need to give our service to the Lord our most valiant effort. Even when we face struggles of our own, we should maintain our devotion to serving God. We should practice hospitality to all even when we are suffering. If a guest shows up at our door, we should be urging to know how they are doing, and how we could help them however we can. We should try to build them up even if we are beaten down. Maybe they aren’t suffering but instead are joyous and excited about something God has done in their life, even then we should celebrate alongside them, rather than pull them out of their joy because we are suffering. You might find coming alongside the guest rather than making them hear what’s going on with you, will build you up as well. Caring for others over yourself works in a supernatural way. It’s an odd paradigm but considering how much love and joy the Lord had to feel when he died on the cross for us, it makes a lot of sense. Our struggles evaporate (or become less of a struggle and easier to think through and talk about.) with the warmth that comes when we choose to love others over ourselves.
The Most Amazingly Efficient Machine
With all roles of the whole not only filled but regularly fulfilled, the whole is complete, active, beautiful and useful. If the body of Christ could be equated to a machine, and the body is in a healthy, united/unified state, it would be the most amazingly efficient machine. This sort of machine churns out fruit, successful ministry and a family/strong community of believers, who are there for each other, all fighting for the same God and the same goal; winning souls! If you are feeling useless, divided, lonely, or depressed – it can all change once you start fulfilling your role in the whole. The maintenance required to keep the machine running at 100% is “love [which springs] from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5 [AMP]).
based on Romans 12:4-6, 12:10-13, 12:16 & 12:18
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us … Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality … Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited … If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.