In contemplating the familiar passage from 1 Corinthians, I started to wonder what Paul might say if he were writing to the Church today. Then I realized that I don’t know what Paul might say, but this is what I would write.
Dear Followers of Christ;
In Christ there is no distinction among us. The mythical one, true Church does not exist in any of our sanctuaries, nor does it exist with those of you who say you are spiritual but not religious. Catholic or Protestant, conservative or progressive, if doctrine, patriarchy, tradition, music, or building are more important than people, the body of Christ is weakened. We forget that we are baptized in the one Spirit into one body. Moreover, every part of that body is important. We cannot ignore those who are poor or homeless, those who are impaired in body, mind or spirit, those who are gay, lesbian, or transgender, or those who come from other lands. Everyone has a place in the church and every church has a place in the body of Christ. If anyone is turned away from the church, Christ is turned away. If any remain cold and hungry and hurting, Christ remains cold and hungry and hurting. It is true that if any of these suffer, the whole body of Christ suffers. If we begin working together, sharing our resources, experiences, and traditions, we will honor God and one another. If we cut out one part, even a small part, the body of Christ will be scarred.
And while we are talking about strength, maybe we should remember that Christ came to us and offered us new life because God so loved the world. All people may not belong to the body of Christ through baptism and belief, but they all belong to God. We should welcome our brothers and sisters who see another face of God, and learn from them as well. If we look through Christ’s eyes, there is no Christian or Jew or Muslim or Hindu or Pagan or Buddhist or any others, only people beloved by God. When we honor any of these, we honor the Creator of All. When we dishonor or destroy one of these, we are dishonoring ourselves and our God.
We should stop arguing amongst ourselves about who is right and who is wrong and who is the better Christian. We would do better to remember why we follow Christ and use the gifts we have each been given to reach out to those in need. We would do better to act with compassion and respect toward ourselves, our neighbors, and our God. When a stranger is welcomed in our midst, Christ is welcomed.
The way of love without condition or qualification is the still more excellent way. Let us seek it for Christ’s sake.
The law of God is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the God are sure, making wise the simple…
YCL – Year C – Third Sunday after
Epiphany – January 27, 2013
Psalm 19 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a