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The Body: a unified community of parts

When you hear “church,” do you imagine a building? A Sunday service? The Bible calls the church a “body,” and I find that image to be one of the most compelling analogies in Scripture. Just as our bodies are a unified community of parts that each make diverse yet indispensable contributions to our lives, so is the church.

During my time as a Serve Asia Worker (short-term missionary) in Japan, I have witnessed afresh the church as a united body held together by Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). As I have lived in community alongside fellow missionaries and church members, I have noticed some practical parallels between the parts of our physical bodies and some of the roles where we can serve in the kingdom of God.

Some parallels are fairly intuitive, like eyes, ears, and mouths. “Eyes” might be believers who are socially and culturally discerning. “Ears” suggests believers who intentionally make themselves available to listen well. And “mouths” may be believers with gifts of teaching, storytelling, or leading.

As for hands and feet, I think of those who joyfully serve by cooking, cleaning, or tackling administrative tasks (hands), and those who hit the streets faithfully to go prayer walking or to make new friends (feet).

But how about the less intuitive ones, like stomachs, kidneys, and lungs? I like to think of them as the people who provide energy and revitalisation, those who are able to evaluate and maintain the quality of a ministry, and those who remain dependable and constant throughout seasons of quiet and busyness.

Many missionaries I have met have skills across many of these areas. However, none of us are able to excel at all of them – and this is a good thing! Just as 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 teaches us, we need each other in ministry. As someone whose default preference is to get things done independently, this has been a challenging lesson. But I’m so grateful for what God has been teaching me throughout my time here.

So, where do you see yourself in the body of Christ? And just as importantly, where do you see your need for others?

by Tessa, a short-term OMF Missionary

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