Good Morning Brothers…
Usually, about this time of year, it is a good time to check out Ebay for used hunting gear. It happens at the end of every hunting season. The clever advertising schemes of the Cabelas and Gander Mountain’s, combined with the popularity of the Duck Dynasty’s convince guys to take up hunting. They watch the hunting shows and see all of the trophy deer walking around and see the well placed shots of arrows. They watch the geese flock in by the hundreds and the well trained retrieval of hunting dogs. They see the endless run of advertising for this gizmo and that gadget all covered in camouflage patterns ranging from deep woods to winter tundras. They are mesmerized by the show, by the apparel, by the man hugs, and by the chance to conquer.
What they don’t realize is the part of hunting the TV shows and advertising don’t tell you. It takes work. It is messy. It mandates teamwork and perseverance. Any “sport” that uses words like ‘gut pile’ and ‘carcass’ and ‘blood trails’ and ‘skinning knife’ is going to be messy. This is when the camera guys turn off their cameras. This is when the advertising becomes general in nature and doesn’t use pictures. The practice of hunting is more than selecting your animal of choice, more than insulating against the cold, more than early mornings, it includes the cold reality of taking care of an animal once it has breathed it’s last breath. It is messy.
All of this reminds me of the Church in America. It reminds me of big sound stages, charismatic speakers, flashing lights, beautiful stone work, and padded seats. It also reminds me of divorce, pornography, same sex marriages, drunkenness, and the continuing decay of morality in our homeland. We, the Church, have a fight on our hand whether we know it or not. My hope and prayer is that we are not mesmerized by the advertising and forget that Church is messy. As I read through the Book of Acts, I see conflict and poor human behavior at every turn of the page. I see the Apostles dealing with the mess of trying to organize the followers of Jesus to battle against the differing cultures of the Jews and the Gentiles. I see the Church taking on her dual identity. She is not only the spiritually organic moving and shaping of the Holy Spirit within the hearts and souls of human beings, she is also an organization of job titles and descriptions with assigned tasks needing completion. She is both.
The Apostle Paul attempts to describe this duality by describing the Church as a human body. We read this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
Paul is making 3 important points here. First, we are all members of the Church organically because we all have been baptized in by the same Spirit…the Holy Spirit. Second, our view of the culture around us, and the Church’s role in it, will differ greatly if we are a ‘big toe’ versus and ‘elbow’ or even a ‘ear lobe’. This is the organizational side. Third, we are one thing. We need each other. The ‘toe’ needs the ‘eye’ and the ‘eye’ needs the ‘toe’. We rejoice as one and we suffer as one…we are one. But being ‘one thing’ or ‘one church’ is messy because it forces us to live in relationship with each other. It forces us to air our dirty laundry to each other, to comfort the widow in her grief, to visit our brother in his depression, to provide healing to the sick, to show patience to the foyer gossip, to show grace.
To show grace………..
A war is coming and a battle is here. We need all of the ‘knee’s’, ‘toes’, and ‘elbows’ to armor up and get ready. The Church, organically and organizationally, needs everybody. The Church has ‘gut piles’ and ‘blood trails’ too, we call it sin and hypocrisy, but we can fight our way through. It will take work. It will be messy. It mandates teamwork and perseverance, but we will conquer. We will conquer in the name, by His authority, of our Lord and Savior…Jesus, the Christ.