For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 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: 12; 25-26
…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;…
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Ephesians 4: 3-4; 11-13
I have adhesive capsulitis, which is also known as frozen shoulder, in my left shoulder. I think I’ve had it for about a year now, though it started out as tendinitis in my rotator cuff (guess there goes my pitching career-drat!). I did not have any trauma or injury to my shoulder or rotator cuff; I didn’t realize anything had happened until I was having a massage and the therapist brought my arm behind my back and it surprisingly hurt! I originally sought pain relief through Airrosti but it didn’t quite cure it, and when the pain got worse, and X-rays revealed no tears, I went to an orthopedist and physical therapist. I’ve been in physical therapy for at least eight months now, dutifully going twice a week. I’ve also had two corticosteroid injections into my shoulder joint. The first one helped with the pain; the second one did nothing. My range of motion is still limited, but it is improving—I can reach a little higher than I used to be able to, and when the pain occurs, it does not last as long as it used to. At my next appointment with my orthopedist, I know the topic of discussion will most likely be what is called an MUA – manipulation under anesthesia where they put you under, move the shoulder joint to break of up all of the adhesions, and then you’re set but with a bear of physical therapy to do—but I doubt I’ll pursue that. It sounds a bit extreme and I think I can just live with this. I just want you to know about all of this so that if I don’t put my left arm around you, or raise it up while we’re all holding hands at the end of the service, you’ll know why!
Each time I see the physical therapist and the orthopedist, they check my range of motion. Try as I might, I cannot lift my left arm straight above my head without leaning back, a subconscious technique called overcompensating. Since my shoulder has its limitations, other muscle groups work harder to offset the limited range. My left arm is noticeably weaker than my right, and the muscles in my right shoulder, neck, and upper back are all under more strain that I’d like them to be.
Now please understand—I’m not sharing all of this with you to invoke pity or anything. This is not life threatening, nor is it as bad as it used to be, and there are a whole lot of folks whose physical and emotional challenges are much worse than mine. I’m sharing it with you because I think that it bears a resemblance to how things work in the church universal.
Paul exhorts the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians that they each have different spiritual gifts, but that they were given by the same Spirit, for the profit of all (the church) and that they were to use their gifts to build up the body of Christ, and that they made up that one body.
It seems almost overly simplistic and unnecessary to say that we all need to work together, yet it is what we are called to do. We each have different gifts used for the building up of the body, and we must use them for that goal. If we are committed to the church, both Universal and Stone Oak Cumberland Presbyterian, we have to acknowledge our contribution and responsibility. Because of our commitment and love for Him, we flex to compensate for those who are unable to do as much. We rush to fill in the gap left by someone unable to continue. We see a need, and we meet it.
But do we always? Just like my right shoulder, neck, and upper back, those who always seem to be those “gap-fillers” can feel strained at the weight of responsibility. There is that unfortunate cliché that says that 20% of the people in a church do 80% of the work. “But we’re a small church, Laura!” one might say. “Even more reason for folks to ensure that we are all working together!” is my rhetorical response.
To accomplish those big, hairy, audacious goals we are going to make, we need to have faith that we will to so through His strength, and through unity of spirit and commitment. Ask God to put it on your heart what He wants you to do in His church, and then do it!
- For the individual family members and friends who are hurting beyond what they feel they can stand
- For those who feel that all hope is lost, and that life would be better without them in it
- For those who cannot see right now that God’s promise of Romans 8:28 will come to pass
- For God’s will to be done in His church
I have felt in my bones for a while now that we are on the verge of something transformational, and I am so excited to experience it. Come, Holy Spirit—lead us!
“We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” - Francis Chan
“He who counts the stars and calls them by name is in no danger of forgetting His own children.” - Charles Spurgeon