Thursday, March 1, 2018

Connections

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (I Corinthians 12:12-20 NIV)

I have been a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks for a very long time, the result of ministering on the University of Kansas campus for many years. I belong to what is referred to as the “Jayhawk Nation.” Several years ago, I was walking in downtown Boone, where I now live, and saw a family wearing Jayhawk t-shirts. This is a very rare sight since I now live in North Carolina, so I was excited to see some of my fellow “citizens.” When I greeted them and told them I was a Jayhawk fan as well, the response was disappointingly underwhelming. They smiled hesitantly and kept on walking. I assume the connection we had was not significant enough in their minds to overcome the uncomfortableness of a stranger greeting them on the street of a town with which they were unfamiliar.

I have always loved finding obscure connections with people—meeting folks who are from the same state or town where I’ve lived, or who are from places where I know people. I remember years ago meeting someone in Kenya who grew up very near where I was born. I really enjoy experiencing those types of connections.

But I’ve realized through the years that not everyone has the same appreciation of these things as I do, the family I mentioned above being a prime example. And I understand that with things like I’ve mentioned, but what I struggle with is often the lack of enthusiasm in engaging with fellow believers in Christ. And it is not merely with strangers that we meet for the first time. It is also with people in our own churches or Christian ministries. Little eye contact is made, few smiles or greetings given. It is as if we are on the street walking among strangers with no connections to them. Yet, what Paul emphasizes is that we as believers are all a part of the same body. In other words, we are connected, whether we know particular people well or not.

In a culture where many of us have been raised with the concept of “stranger danger,” our first instinct is to avoid interaction with anyone we do not personally know.  This, I believe, has led us to ignore the reality of the connectedness we have with each other through Jesus. Whether we know others in our churches or ministries, they are likely relatives of ours and we should treat them as such.

Today, think about the fellow believers you know or encounter on a regular basis, but with whom you’ve resisted any interaction, even a smile or kind acknowledgement of their existence. Ask the Lord to help you have a sense of connectedness with them and to respond accordingly. After all, they are a part of the same family as you and your connections run deep. 

© Jim Musser 2018

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