Blindfolded, we can quickly and easily put our index finger on the tip of our own nose. However, we cannot do the same feat on a person standing right next to us.
God created our bodies with an amazing ability to perceive their own position in space. Even blindfolded, we can differentiate the spacial position of our nose in comparison to the rest of our bodies . . . and in comparison to the noses of others. Often referred to as “the sixth sense,” this is called proprioception. Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Paul refers to the Church as the body of Christ. “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” (Romans 12:4-5). His teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 helps us see the importance of all parts of the body working together:
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 a 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.
No one part of the body of Christ can alone accomplish the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment (Matthew 10:37-40). We need each other. The more we cooperate, even collaborate, the greater our reflection of the true nature of the body of Christ. And the greater our effectiveness!
Among the more than 140 different expressions of the body of Christ working in the Billion.Global coalition, some specialize in discipling the deaf. Others focus on at-risk children, oral learners, the trafficked, or young adults who reject traditional expressions of church. Yet others have developed effective, contextualized approaches to those often hostile to anything having to do with Christ. All of these are parts of one body with Christ as our head. We need each other. God has amazingly built into us a proprioceptive capacity enabling us to work together as one body.
Too often we don’t. The kingdom of darkness wins when we compete with other parts of the body of Christ. Historically there’s been too much competitive striving.
In the Billion.Global coalition, this is being replaced more and more with cooperation, even collaboration. The strengths of one part of the body are increasingly offsetting the weaknesses of other parts. Ministry tools are being openly shared. Kingdom synergy is growing. In the body of Christ, we need each other!
Written by Bob Fetherlin, President of One Mission Society