by Wendy Anne Clark
I was thinking this morning about how my sister when she was in Germany years ago, told of how she was often embarrassed by other Americans. It reminded me of when my husband and I were in Jamaica and were embarrassed by another American couple because of the way they mistreated the wait staff. Like my sister, we felt that as Americans, the things other Americans were doing reflected on us and who we are.
There is something about identifying with a group of people that is risky. Once we identify with them, they represent us, and we represent them, whether any of us intend to or not.
And so it is with the word “Christian.” Throughout history many have identified themselves as “Christians.” Some have done so deceptively for political or personal gain. Hitler is one who falls into this category, calling himself a “Christian” while those closest to him say he was a committed Atheist. He labeled himself a “Christian” to identify himself with other Christians and bring credibility to his philosophies, but not to align himself with the person of Jesus Christ.
Often the word “Christian” is tainted by true believers, followers of Christ who are redeemed but not yet perfected. They stand up and identify with us and with Christ himself and then sadly bring embarrassment to us all by falling in public ways—ways we cannot easily explain or ignore. And yet Christ has chosen to call all Believers his “body.” We are “the Body of Christ.” He has chosen to identify with us as embarrassing as we might be.
The picture that comes to my mind is that of an awkward body, picking its nose and scratching in public, belching rudely, and stumbling around with no coordination. It pushes itself boldly into a room shouting, “Here I am, the Body of Christ,” and we look up, embarrassed and squawk, “Yes, that’s me. I’m a part of that body.” Yikes.
If that’s how we feel sometimes, what does it all seem like to Jesus? That body is such a poor reflection of who he is. It’s puzzling that the God of the universe would allow himself to be represented by such a rag-tag band of followers. More puzzling even that he would label us his “bride” and talk of us as having incredible value.
Yet, in the struggle that is involved in getting it all together–in becoming a coordinated, functioning body–something begins to happen. The body lurches to its feet, hobbling along, desperately struggling to stand up straight and to make that one foot step evenly in front of the other, struggling to get a fluid motion, an efficient stride. The body gradually straightens out, getting stronger and more coordinated and begins to pick up the pace, and suddenly the body is finally really getting somewhere.
That’s what Jesus Christ has in mind for his Body of Believers. He brings us together in a seemingly random, mismatched way, and we struggle together for true connection and coordination. But in order for that coordination to happen, all parts must learn how to surrender to Christ as the Head of the Body—Christ as the brains of the operation.–surrender and surrender completely.
© 2012 Wendy Anne Clark, first published for wendyclarkministries.com