From Bent to the Body of Christ
Posted by Laura K. Cavanaugh
On Monday, I shared what my husband taught me about God. But there’s more to the story of the incarnation (and more to body theology) than our individual connection with God.
The experience is also corporate. We teach each other about God every day, whether we intend to or not.
We all know the negative impact Christians can have on each other and on the world with careless statements of judgment and intolerance, falls from pedestals into sexual sin or greed, the authoritarian parent who teaches young children to fear punishment, not to mention the dark elements of our Church’s history (Crusades, Inquisition) we’d rather forget.
We understand and interact with God and with each other through the lens of our own experience. Sometimes our experience has influenced us negatively, but we can also redeem our experience of who God is and who we are because of God through one another.
This is what body theology is all about. This is why Paul’s metaphor of the community of God as a human body is so apt. Our corporate (all together, working in unity within our great, beautiful, and necessary diversity) function in the world is to be the body of CHRIST — the community of God encouraging and sharpening one another — and the BODY of Christ — the community of God in action in the world according to the example, teaching, and calling of Jesus.
We have a responsibility to represent the truth about who God is and who we are in Christ to everyone we meet, not just with our mouths but with our actions.
For all the people in the world (like me!) who have deep-seated trust issues, we have the opportunity to show people God is trustworthy by being trustworthy ourselves. For all the people in the world who are at heart struggling with a seemingly unshakable sense of shame and un-loveliness, we have the opportunity to show people God loves them by loving them ourselves.
This is not to glorify ourselves but to work by our small and unique activity in the world to point to the truth that is fuller and greater and more complete than anything we can experience on our own.
For this reason, social justice is necessary. For this reason, gathering together as the community of God is necessary. We cannot see the truth fully on our own. Our individual lenses are small and dirty and fractured. In the words of C. S. Lewis, we are bent.
We — and by we here I mean every human being — need each other to know the truth of God fully, to experience God fully, through relationship as we have been designed to receive and understand ourselves and the world around us. We do not exist in a vacuum. We experience our lives among others and in the world.
Whether we like it or not, whether we intend to or not, we are affecting the lives of those around us, and we are representing the truth about God to those around us.
Let’s take advantage of the opportunity to speak (and act) into the lives of others with purpose and intention as we learn more about the truth of God together.
About Laura K. CavanaughI'm a writer, spiritual director, and advocate of holistic body theology.
Posted on September 19, 2012, in Body of CHRIST, BODY of Christ, Community, Identity, Incarnation of Christ, Social Justice and tagged body of Christ, C. S. Lewis, Christ, Christian, Crusades, God, Inquisition. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.
Thanks for this post. I especially appreciate the thought that “We cannot see the truth fully on our own.” We grow in our understanding of God by locking ourselves in a closet with a Bible, but by interacting with other believers who’ve also encountered him. That’s why I also think it’s important that we spend time with Christians who believe differently than we do. Through our disagreements, we can challenge each other to see God in ways that we might not have been open to otherwise.
Well said, friend. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m glad you stopped by.
I really enjoyed your thought that ” We teach each other about God every day, whether we intend to or not.” It is a great reminder that what we do effects others. and a great reminder to pay attention to what your actions are saying to others- good thing to remember before going out to teach a challenging 1st grade class.
It also enjoyed your emphasis on how we need others to be able to fully see truth. it is easy to get caught up on a small part of something, but when in community you can see more fully because others help you see things in a different way or focus on a different part.
Exactly! Just like you were saying in your blog post about how conversations with others (and pink nail polish) can expand our understanding and change our perspective. I’m sure your students are blessed to have you as their teacher. What a positive influence you are! Thanks so much for stopping by, friend. =)
Love this Laura, and loved your previous post as well. I came away with some great nuggets. It’s such a wake up call when we remember that our actions & words are a reflection of God and how that can be a beautiful thing or a devastating experience.
Felicia! So honored you stopped by! Thanks for your encouraging response. You were on my mind when I wrote this one. 🙂
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