This week I stubbed the toe next to my smallest toe. Actually I don’t think ‘stubbed’ is the right verb. Maybe ‘broke’ or at least ‘jammed’. I’d never really considered this #4 right toe on my foot before, but I have now. After some initial wild pain, it now just aches and prefers not to be touched. It’s not looking very pretty either.
It reminded me of I Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about how we are all part of one body. Frankly, the rest of me [or at least the immature part of me that can’t stand inconvenience]wouldn’t have minded if #4 toe had disappeared that first day after it went crashing into the sharp corner of a footstool. It seems a little superfluous; even on its good days I’m not sure it does much for the greater good. But it isn’t going anywhere. I’m stuck with it.
It was a vivid reminder that If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. [The Message vs 26].
I couldn’t help thinking about the Christian community I’m part of, which being a typical community is filled with wonderful people and strange people and hurting people who act in painful ways [and sometimes it’s all the same person]. It’s not always fun. Sometimes I’d much prefer a hermit kind of Christianity off by myself with no one’s hurts to affect me. But the trouble is, as much as I’d like to think I’m sufficient to myself, that’s ridiculous. I can’t escape the fact that I’m only one part of the body and I just can’t make it on my own. Let’s say I’m the elbow. If you think [in a Monty Pythonesque kind of way] of an elbow taken away from the forearm and the upper arm laying on the ground all by itself, it is pretty comical–and rather sad.
On the other side, if you think of toe #4 banished from the body because it’s in pain…well I think I could live without toe #4. But toe #4 isn’t going to be the last part screaming out in pain because it is bruised or burned. If I get rid of every part in pain, pretty soon, there wouldn’t be much left to the body. Even losing five toes on one foot would make a significant difference to me. Being part of the Christian community means being attached to people at all stages of spiritual growth, and to people who are hurting and grieving. And that’s not such a bad thing because sometimes that hurting person is me.
Come to think of it, I guess toe #4 does have a purpose after all. It’s a pretty effective teacher of truth:
*I’m one part of the body of Christ, whether I like it or not.
*I’m attached to lots of other Christians, whether I like it or not.
*I’m affected by another Christian’s pain….but I also get the overflow of happiness and joy when they are flourishing.
*…And it helps not to walk around the house in bare feet.