The Christian writer, C.S.Lewis, comments on the word membership as follows: “The Christian is called, not to individualism but to membership in the mystical body. The very word membership is of Christian origin, but it has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning. In any book on logic you may see the expression “members of a class”. It must be most emphatically stated that the items or particulars included in a homogeneous class are almost the reverse of what St Paul meant by members. By members, Paul meant what we should call organs, things essentially different from, and complimentary to, one another; things differing not only in structure and function but also in dignity.”
He goes on to say how we are called by baptism to life within the Body of Christ, and in this sense we are members – arms, legs, eyes, ears and so on. To grasp this is to see one another very differently. To be a member of Grace is not to be a pledging unit or a name on the e-newsletter mailing list; but to be an active part of a living entity which is the local expression of the Body of Christ. It follows that we learn to know ourselves within the Body in relation to each other. As a little finger, I may wonder about my usefulness until I find myself alongside three other fingers and a thumb! We can never say of each other I have no need of him or her; nor can I wish we were all one thing. The gift of community building in the Body of Christ is discerning how we work and fit together as the Spirit guides and empowers. And the context of that community life is not just within the church structure but in our life as Christ’s body from morning to night with all that entails.
Sometimes this means we don’t always appreciate the fullness of whom God sees when God looks upon us. We tend to relate according to our places in the structure. And do not see the abundant gifts around us. I want to illustrate my point with the fuller introduction of one of our staff members, Ryan Cagle. Ryan puts together this e-newsletter, and the Sunday bulletins. He looks after the communication aspects of our common life. We are tempted to see him only within this functional perspective, but God sees much more. Recently his local ABC news station featured Ryan and his wife Jordan’s ministry “Jubilee House” where they work to “Cultivate a community of Imagination and Resistance” in their hometown of Parrish, Alabama. Below is a link to the broadcast; with a reminder that as members of the Body of Christ, we all have such a richer story to tell.
“Jubilee House is a dream about what it means to collectively struggle for a different world. A world free of the evils of racism, oppression, and alienation. Jubilee House is a dream of a radically different future for Walker County, AL. This is a vision for a future shaped by jubilee (Leviticus 25, Isaiah 61:1-12, Luke 4:18-19) in which the material and spiritual needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized are met through acts of mutual solidarity.”
You can read all about all the work that Jubilee House does over on their website!