Cutting the Body of Christ

 

Kay Arthur made a statement today that really got my attention. Condemning another believer because their beliefs or practices differ from yours is like cutting yourself. Eph 4:4 says there is one body, Christ’s Body of believers. When we harm another believer, we are abusing the Body we inhabit.

When we become angry or disdainful or accusing about doctrinal difference, it’s hard to practice

kindness, gentleness, tolerance, and peace.

When we are putting someone else down, can we truly be ruled by the Spirit?  Does the way we treat the Body cause the Head to weep? There may be parts of the Body that we don’t find beautiful–there may even be parts that seem ill or lame, but does that give us the right to cut them?

When I think about the phenomenon of “cutting” that we hear about too often today, a self-abusive practice that many teens have resorted to in order to overcome their emotional pain, I have to wonder if the divisions in the Body of Christ are similar. Are we reacting to pain and abuse in our own lives by hurting Christ’s Body?

There’s an interesting command given in Ephesians 4. Paul begins by imploring, beseeching us to show humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance, and to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. He doesn’t focus on truth and judgment here–he focuses on walking in the Spirit.

The chapter begins with “Therefore…” so we have to go back to the previous chapter to find out what that’s about. The last few verses of chapter 3 talk about Christ dwelling in our hearts and about us learning to know His incredible love and power and glory.  Therefore, it goes on to say, we are to practice tolerance and kindness. That is, as a natural result of our learning that Jesus knows all, sees all, and loves us without measure anyway, we will show the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our relationships with others.

To do otherwise is to cut your own Body.

ouch.

I love the fact that Eph 4:3 says to

be diligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace

[then it expands on that concept a bit and finishes the thought in verse 13] 

until we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Our work now is to preserve unity of the Spirit, to build up the Body of Christ, and someday that work will be finished…when we attain to the unity of the faith, the full knowledge of Christ.  We won’t understand it all, we won’t know for sure who’s right about all the minor issues, until we attain unity of faith. 

Now THAT is something to look forward to!

 

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About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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12 Responses to Cutting the Body of Christ

  1. TNLNSL_PRN says:

    Very good post!  But the Bible also teaches that at some point we NEED to cut them off.  For their own good.  We can’t forget that either.  

  2. fwren says:

    Well written, dear sister ~

  3. walkintrust says:

    CrystallineFigurines – This post is talking about the Body of Christ.  When would we NEED to cut “them” off?  We’re not talking about active, practicing sinners but about fellow believers, albeit believers who may differ from us somewhat in beliefs.  How would you define “cutting them off”?  What would be the criteria for doing so?  And who would do the cutting – an individual Christian?  a church body?  elders?

  4. mamaglop says:

    Hmmmm, not sure I agree with Kaye Aurthur.  I think it depends on how different the doctrinal difference is…  We need to strive to keep the body healthy and whole, but if the body of Christ analogy holds true, is she suggesting that we should never recognise a “sore pimple” and squeeze it?  There has to be a line between “different” and “wrong” doctrine.  Wrong doctrine could be compared to a splinter.  Sometimes we “cut” to take out the foreign body.  Healthy people do treat their bodies like that: recognise when something is out of whack, and sometimes it hurts to put it right. 

  5. BooksForMe says:

    @mamaglop – I agree with what you’re saying.  I wonder if the distinction is in how it’s done, how the error is addressed.  (To Homefire) I do not see tolerance in the Bible, either the NIV or KJV.  Maybe, I missed it.  Tolerance is just one of those words that, to me, suggests compromise, so I don’t like it much.  I don’t think Christ taught it. He taught love, not tolerance.

  6. homefire says:

    @CrystallineFigurines – @mamaglop – @BooksForMe – @walkintrust – Just to clarify, Kay was talking about Eph 4:1-6, especially “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  She was not promoting tolerance of unscriptural principles or ungodly behavior, but simply pointing out that we are to have “humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” about any difference in practice that was not specifically instructed in Scripture.  (It does use the word tolerance here in the NAS, Caroline.)   The passage is about walking in the Spirit in relationships with other believers.  It’s not about presenting the gospel to unbelievers.  It’s about being a peacemaker within the body, which Jesus did teach.  Interesting that the word tolerance raises such red flags.  Sad, really, that we immediately connect it with ungodliness, but in this world it’s understandable.  Just wanted to let you all know that I wasn’t promoting tolerance of sin! 

  7. BooksForMe says:

    @homefire -Tolerance doesn’t mean forbearing, so I’m not sure why they chose it for the NAS. I checked about a dozen translations, and none others chose to use it. It’s interesting.  Yea for unity, though.  That’s the point.Cutting. Ugh. Hate that word. It’s so intentional, motivated by a desire to cause pain.  It’s also born out of pain suffered.  I don’t think most Believers who speak against doctrines they believe are untrue are trying to hurte, or speaking from a place of hurt. I just think they believe passionately, ad care deeply.  They are trying to prevent destruction, not cause it.  Paul Washer comes to mind.  He’s said some pretty damning things about some of our Christian beliefs/practices.  He has very strong words to say about folks like me, in fact, who do not believe a strict Calvinist doctrine. I am not offended by his zeal—I don’t feel hurt by him.  I am not tolerating him, though. I forbear.

  8. oremus16 says:

    @BooksForMe – loved your answer.

  9. BooksForMe says:

    @oremus16 – Oh, well, thank you kindly.

  10. ElizabethDNB says:

    I am a big KA fan, and I really like her point.  C.S. Lewis often made similar points.  I have been on the receiving end of a lot of flack from my fellow believers, but the one swho are truly friends, and they are the ones who matter, realize that we can disagree on non-salvation realted issues,and still love and respect each other and see each other as sisters in Christ. 

  11. I found this post very thought-provoking.  It is our nature to resist those who differ in opinion.  I agree we should be passionate about our beliefs.  We should be just as considerate of the beliefs of others.  They are as passionate of their opinion as I am of mine.  Jesus was concerned about our actions.  I confess that the actions of some I disagree with do more to build the Kingdom of God than what I am able to accomplish.  Correct doctrine is important.  It is also important to practice tolerance and kindness that the fruit of the Spirit might be profuse in our lives.  We are to be extremely patient with the foibles of others, and somewhat unforgiving of our own.

  12. homefire says:

    @BooksForMe – I have thought about this several times this past week…tolerate vs. forbear.  I actually looked them up a couple places, and they seem to define each other, so the only real difference in them is that forbear is an older, less-used word, and its original meaning is to abstain.  (That’s not really what you meant, though is it?  )  It’s an interesting point that you make, though.  The word tolerance has been corrupted by modern usage, much like “social justice.”  It used to mean one thing, but it’s been twisted to have other nuances of meaning that we find objectionable.  I guess it’s how language has probably always evolved, but it’s sad to lose good words.  Reminds me of a couple of our latest read-alouds, The Good Master and The Wizard of Oz, both of which used the word “gay” quite freely, eliciting snickers from my kids.  Sad.

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