Body of Christ

Last Tuesday evening across the Texas/Mexico border in Matamoros an asylum seeker approached me with a smile, and asked, “Why are you so serious? White girl with big blue eyes, why are you so serious? Smile!” I thought to myself, “There’s nothing to smile about. This is sad.” Instead, I responded with “What?” He replied with, “Smile!” So, I complied, and smiled. Among a couple hundred asylum seekers, this man and I have a conversation. His name is Orando from Panama. He speaks perfect English, which is great, because my Spanish is poquito. He tells me a story about a baby boy in the crowd with his parents whose first birthday is approaching Saturday. Orando tells me how the parents are from Peru, and along the way to the Texas border, the mother gave birth to their baby boy in Panama, and the little family fully expected to be in Texas by the time their little boy had his first birthday. Instead, they are sleeping in a tent on hard concrete across the bridge from Texas anticipating a 1 year old birthday celebration with a crowd of mutual asylum seekers. Someone has brought a piñata to the little family so they’re able to properly celebrate. Orando calls out to the father who is holding the little boy, and the father brings his son over for me to admire. Others from our team join in admiration, and suddenly the father thrusts the baby boy towards me, and I’m forced to quickly shove my water bottle awkwardly under my arm to wrap my arms around this sweet little sojourner. The baby pass-off happens so quickly that his back is against my chest, so he keeps twisting his neck to gaze at me. I try to talk with him and make him laugh, yet I notice he simply wants to look at me. Truthfully, I just want to cherish this sweet time holding this precious little boy and look at him too. The father walks away, trusting me with his son to join his wife who is talking with friends. At this moment, I feel connected to everybody around me. I also realize I’m in very familiar territory. As a Children’s Minister, people leave their kids with me all the time trusting their children will be safe and cherished. One of our other team members, Heidi, approaches and reaches her arms out for the baby boy, and he is suddenly taken away from my arms. She coos at him and he smiles. Eventually, he is passed around from one set of arms to another to adore.

As I’ve reflected over this experience during the last week, the image and idea that persists in my mind is the body of Christ. Surrounded by many bodies last Tuesday night across the bridge, bodies that are attempting to remain fed, clothed, bathed, and rested amid an extraordinarily difficult environment, a baby body whom I held briefly and then passed from one body to another body to hold, bodies who served food, bodies who received and consumed food, bodies who kissed and hugged other bodies to reassure one another that all will be well…all of these bodies are a part of the Body of Christ.

Henri Nouwen writes about the body of Christ quite meaningfully in the Life of the Beloved. According to Nouwen, Christ’s body is Taken (Chosen), Blessed, Broken, and Given for all, and as a result, our bodies, each one of our bodies, is Taken (Chosen), Blessed, Broken, and Given. In essence, our bodies, like the body of Christ, is meant to be consumed by God’s love for others. This is a radical idea in a world full of consumers. Consumerism leads to many sins, yet the most horrifying sin I believe consumerism leads to is individual body consumerism. Instead of operating beneath the virtue of giving one’s life for our brothers and sisters, we fall into expecting others to live their lives to please us. We give into the pleasure of the world, instead of intentionally giving our bodies to be broken and given to glorify God as we do our best to love others.

Church consumerism is the selfish desire to keep our bodies safe from the outside world. It’s the desire to keep the status quo so we don’t have to stretch our hearts to include others. In our church it may look like sitting in the same chair in the worship center you’ve always sat, or going to the same class you’ve always participated, or parking in the same parking space you’ve always parked. Perhaps it looks like getting out of worship at a certain time each week because your family dinner appointment is more important to you than hospitality….whatever the sacred cow is for you…we all have them…in any situation your actual body is completely involved. 1st Corinthians 12:27 says, “7 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” If we believe Paul here, and we are all part of the body, how are we honoring the body if we are simply consuming? If we are not experiencing our body being Chosen by God, Blessed by God, Broken by God, and Given by God to the world, our bodies have simply become earthly ornaments. We are created to be instruments of God’s peace. We are created to get outside of ourselves, and to get out into the world to be broken…for our hearts to broken so God’s love shines more brightly through our bodies as we hold, touch, and heal others who are broken by sin, and to give our bodies for the love of Jesus.

We each have a part in the body. My part is to hold, teach, love, and protect children. This is mine to do. This purpose doesn’t change in spite of being in different environments…God has given this job to me to do. What is your part in the Body of Christ? God doesn’t care how young or old your body is…your body has purpose and your part of the Body of Christ matters. Orando knows his part in the body. His environment is constantly changing, yet I suspect he has always been a person who seeks to comfort others even though he is living a life of poverty. Orando is a Shepherd of the people he is traveling and waiting with, and last Tuesday evening he shepherded me, connected me to others, and gave me a story to share with you. May we all seek to break our bodies for others to live as Christ broke his body for us so that we may live fully into the kingdom of God. May we be consumed by God’s love for others, and break away from lives of consumerism, narcissism, self-centeredness, and entitlement. Amen.

Other Posts You Might Like:

You Gotta Really-Really Love Jesus - Don Compton

Pleasure or Meaning? - Casey McCollum

Bicycle Ministry - Don Compton

Benevolence Ministry - Don Compton

There Is More…There Is Power - Ross Thomson



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McKinney at Cardinal

101 Cardinal Drive
Denton, TX 76209



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9:30 - Worship (English Service)
10:10 - Bible Class (Birth to 8th grade following the Kid's church time until the end of service)
11:00 - Worship (Spanish Service)

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