Horizontal Faith; January 24

Many parts, one body.

Paul says that the church is like the human body.  The simile would have been familiar to 1st Century folks. In fact, it was used by the powerful to remind the lowly of their proper place. If you are a foot, then at the bottom you belong. Those at the top used the analogy of the human body to reinforce social roles that kept the bottom at the bottom and the top at the top.

When Paul launches into this analogy in 1 Corinthians 12, his readers might anticipate a similar line of thought.  But instead, Paul uses the image to affirm that each member of the body is equal. The head cannot say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” “On the Contrary,” Paul says, “the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…God has so arranged the body giving the greater honor to the inferior member.” So, I guess, he doesn't actually say they are equal...he actually says that those regarded as less, for the Christian church, ought to be regarded as superior.

Churches preach blessings to the poor, but internally, they often overlook the meek. Cultivating a culture of listening to quieter members and minority voices is not as easy as giving it lip service.

The first step in creating a culture that values everyone is recognizing God’s image in the people seated next to you. Pastor Bob talked about the dichotomy we often draw between our vertical relationship (Between God and ourselves) and our horizontal relationships (between other people and creation). We have an expectation that God is ‘up there’ and that our relationship with him is created when we stop looking horizontally and focus only vertically. While time spent focusing on God alone is necessary, scripture more often identifies God being present on a horizontal level, among people.

As you stand in line for communion, one way of approaching God might be to think of your sister in front of you and pray for the eyes to see her as Christ sees her and to see the Christ in her. The church is so necessary for Christians because it is in our relationships with one another that we constitute the Body of Christ.

God so often seems silent, particularly when we sit quietly expecting to hear some sort of audible voice. I was encouraged this week to listen for God’s voice by looking for Christ at work, not only in the vertical, but in the horizontal of the everyday grind.