Putting on the overalls, getting out the trusty, dusty toolbox and begin grunting like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. I’m building shelves in the garage.
All is going swimmingly until a well intentioned swing of the hammer drives my thumb into oblivion.
A gentle, “Oh Gosh!” slips from my mouth, tears spring forth from my eyes, my tummy rolls over, my knees shudder and all of a sudden go weak and my thumb screams back at me in language my ears can’t hear because they are now ringing. Nurse… NURSE!
You have got to smile when your wife runs out to see what all the commotion is about and asks, “You okay honey?” And in whimpered reply one gives a little tool man grunt, puffs up the chest, drops the lip and looks boyishly brave.
Apart from learning to strategically remove my pincered finger and thumb from a half driven-in nail before the hammer pounds it below the thickness of them both, I got to thinking about how our whole body reacts when just the tip of a single digit is exposed to the experience of a crushing blow?
It is the same in the church – the whole Body of Christ. We are all of the same body. And just because there are different expressions within the different congregations doesn’t make one any better than the other; just different.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 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.
When one member hurts, we all hurt.
…. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:24ff-26
And, when one congregation is in a battle we are all in a battle.
Look at the attitude of Reuben and Gad as the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordon.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad had amassed much livestock and asked that their inheritance was given first because the land on which they stood was suitable for grazing.
Now, at first it may have looked like they were bailing out from the rest of Israel. Even Moses thought they were seeking to divide Israel and abandon their brothers and sisters… until we hear them also say to Moses:
But we will arm ourselves for battle and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.
And their level of commitment was to not to lay down their swords until there was peace and prosperity for ALL of Israel.
We will not return to our homes until all the Israelites have received their inheritance.
Every congregation, or assembly, should maintain their “sheep-folds” for this provides the sense of family and continuity among them and also provides a place of spiritual shelter, “fortified cities“, for their little ones. However, while doing this, each must have their swords drawn and ready to fight on behalf of all.
I love my thumb, my poor squished throbbing thumb. Will I cut it off? No! I want to keep it. So, I will care for it, nurture it, protect it. What would I not do to see it healed and restored to its former glory.
So, and in the same way, the Lord has desired, since the beginning, that we be our “brother’s keeper”.
Today, He is calling us to unity. We must cease fighting with one another and become a family that fights for one another.