Thursday, December 11, 2008

We are one in the body

When I raised my own family the decision of one would affect the rest. When my son made a foolish mistake while working at CompUsa and tried to impress a friend by not ringing up his DVD and slipping it into the bag, he wasn't the only one that paid a price. Oh, he suffered for sure. He was led out of the store in handcuffs. I got the call when he was at the juvenile dention center. Then it was my turn to suffer. I was scared FOR him. I spent that night taking care of the things needed to get him out of there. I spent another 6 months taking him to court required meetings with probation officers and the other required items. His small mistake affected other people. He was not the only one affected. When I was growing up there was enough trouble caused by me and my siblings to affect the whole family. One of us didn't pay the price. We all did. The whole family was impacted by the decisions of one. Was it everyone's fault? No. But we all shared the burden of a mistake. I shared the consequences of the actions of my brothers and sisters. When I cut my hand opening a can a while back, my whole body hurt suffered along with my hand. I had trouble sleeping. Had trouble typing. I didn't feel like doing normal things that I might have done. My life was altered because of something that happened to my hand. My body was affected by a body part. Now listen to what Paul said in Corinthians speaking of the body: "If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. "I have other brothers and sisters outside of my immediate family. Not just within a church body, but within the body human. My actions affect my neighbors. The actions of my neighbors affect me. We are all connected - intricately. If I think of "judgement" as the lashing out by God to punishment I perhaps misunderstand. If I see judgment as the natural result of my decisions things become clearer. In the same way that my human body is affected by the pain of an appendage, we as the body of Christ -- and the body of humanity -- all do experience the judgment of God because of the choices and actions of our fellow travelers. If someone harms my loved ones I really do experience that "judgment." I experience the pain, and the loss and the suffering even though I may be completely innocent. I hurt for and with those people. If I make stupid decisions and do harm to someone else, then not only I will experience that judgement, but the person I harmed will suffer, and the people around that person will suffer. We are all intimately connected.When we start seeing this intimate connection we might stop thinking of "us" and "them" and stop seeing good guys and bad guys and seeing some people as the "enemy." Instead, we'll see that we are all brothers and sisters - yes, even those people that we don't like. We are all composed of the body of humanity.So, will I be judged for my ancestors decisions to keep slaves? You bet I will be. WE are paying the price for that right now. All of us. The struggles that one race still goes through in America is a direct result of the actions of our forbears and we all still experience that struggle with them. Slavery is only one example. Humans have made so many terrible, horrible choices, and today, we as society and civilization still are recovering from those choices. Entire nations, countries, races, peoples of all walks of life are affected. They are experiencing that judgment. The innocent people in Iraq are paying the price of decisions made by other people including their leaders and the leaders of other countries. That country will be suffering for a long time, for generations. When Jesus said that sin would be carried on to the 3rd and 4th generations he was not eliciting and indictment as much as statement the truth. What I do affects my children, and their children, and their children. What we all do affects the rest of us. Some might disagree with the labels that one might choose to use to express this judgment, but the reality is the statements of Jesus are coming to pass. Innocent people today are suffering from the result of the decisions of others. Call it judgment or the result of consequence -- It is the same thing. And yes - innocent people experience it along with the guilty. Now, listen to what Paul said again about the body. This time expand your thinking of what the body is. Think of the body as being all of us jointly connected as humans. The body of humanity. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you." Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.