“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12
Paul spends much of 1 Corinthians talking about the body. He discusses sexual sin, reminding the Corinthians that their bodies belonged to Christ and had become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. He talks about the authority that a husband and wife have over each other’s bodies. He refers to physical exercise and training the body. He discusses communion and food and becoming the body of Christ through partaking of the Lord’s Supper. In Chapter 12, Paul begins of discussion of the many parts of the body of Christ. He explains that we are all members, but we all have a different role. But without each member doing it’s part, the body cannot function properly.
I have been recently been learning more about the fascinating workings of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that regulate hormones in the body. In the brain, the hypothalamus sends messages to the pituitary, which releases hormones to the adrenal glands. The adrenals release cortisol (which helps the body regulate stress and sleep) and DHEA (which is the precursor to progesterone) which plays a vital role in blood sugar stability as well as some other functions. Other glands such as the thyroid and ovaries (in women) operate on a balancing axis with the adrenals. It’s a complicated system, but here is the interesting part. When something as insignificant as inflammation from food or environmental allergies or long-term stress is effecting the body, it can block the receptors of the adrenal glands which has a domino effect on the whole endocrine system. Improper amount of estrogen can get stored in the body, putting additional pressure on the liver, which then sends the wrong messages to the pancreas. Progesterone is lowered and can effect the reproductive organs causing infertility. The hormonal system is a delicate system and when it is off, many organs in the body do not function optimally.
Bringing this back to Paul’s words to the Corinthians, his metaphor of the church being like a body is more fascinating and interesting the more I learn about the body. There are many functions that happen within the body that we do not see. Most people don’t even know where the pituitary gland is located, and yet without it’s important work the entire hormonal system is thrown off, which then effects metabolism, tissue function, reproduction, sleep, blood sugar regulation, and much more! How many times do we find ourselves with seemingly insignificant tasks that are completely hidden from the rest of the world? A mother who, despite her exhaustion, reads books cheerfully with her children. A father who works extra hours to provide an education for his children. A teenage who respects the curfew. A single brother or sister who diligently works at whatever job or schooling God has put in front of them. A few minutes spent memorizing a Psalm, taking a moment to send an encouraging text to a friend, confessing the envy and covetousness and discontent, controlling our thoughts so that they are honoring to God. All these things and many more acts of obedience often go completely unnoticed and unappreciated. But, what does Paul say? We are like a body. And what do we know of the body? It all functions together. When one part is suffering, the whole body feels it. Even if the part that is no functioning properly is a tiny gland sitting on top of your kidney. It seems like it would not make a difference, but the impact is actually huge. When one part of the body of Christ is allowing little disobediences, the whole body of Christ feels it even though they can’t see the disobedience. When all the little parts of the body of Christ obey diligently, the whole body thrives. The interesting part about healing the endocrine system is that when the cause of the disruption of hormonal balance is treated, the healing process also has a domino effect and the whole system can heal. It is the same in the body of Christ. When one member is faithful, even in the small things that many people do not see, the whole body is blessed by those secret obediences. So, whatever God has asked you to do, even if it seems small and insignificant, do it. If it is just being content with the size of your house or ceasing complaints about your job or turning off the TV show you know you shouldn’t be watching, it effects all of us in ways that we can not see or even understand. Faithfulness in the little things is life to us all.