One of the first drawings children make of a human being mainly consists of a big head, while hands and feet are just short lines. In German it is called a Kopffüßler. In Swedish a huvudfoting. (Both meaning a head with feet.) In English, the word is a stick figure.
The proportions make sense, because from the head come smiles, encouragement and verbal communication, all things that are important to a 3 to 4-year-old person. On the other hand, it is safe to assume that children are fully aware of what people really look like. They have experienced arms that hug and legs that run to them. This image is just a stage of their development.
This image came to mind as I was thinking of the expression the body of Christ. Paul uses it when he talks about the fellowship of believers. Jesus is the head and the people in the Church are the different parts of the body. When writing to the Christians in Corinth Paul addresses a problem. Some parts of the Church, the body, are looking at themselves as being more important than the others. If we were to draw a picture of what he describes it would be like a stick figure but with a big eye or ear instead of a head.
His point is that none of the evangelists, teachers, musicians, people doing social ministry or any of the others can say that they are the most important part. The uniqueness of the fellowship is that we make up one body where we all need each other. If there is any part more important than the other, it is the head. Christ is the head and no part should take his place of authority.
This year, when there have been or will be elections in many European countries, I wish that society in general would learn from the image of One Body. It seems that some ideologies are very eager to amputate the weak and vulnerable parts of society. Others are angry and envious and will try to harm the strong parts.
In order to have a healthy society we do well to continue building healthy small fellowships. If we practise good relationships and build a balanced body of believers in our families, in church and in the ecumenical fellowships, society as a whole will be influenced.
We are not short of available advice and practical help to achieve this. Paul ends 1 Corinthians 12 by introducing the most excellent way for the parts of the body to function well. The way is love, which he writes beautifully about in chapter 13. In Ephesians 4:15 he says that when we speak the truth in love we will grow and become the mature body of the head, that is Christ.
More practical help is given in chapter 4 of the book Journey of Renewal. That journey starts with considering the people around us. Who are we making this journey with and how are our relationships? It is worth noting that the name of our congregations, “corps”, is taken from the Latin word corpus, which means body. I recommend you to start your journey of renewal and use chapter 4 to grow in the quality and strength of your relationships with people.
This text has been published in the Heilsarmee Magazin #6/2017