This past Sunday, we celebrated a new baby that has been born into our church. So, aesthetically how this works is the biological family of the baby + really anyone who sees it necessary and the elders of our church will come up to the front of the auditorium during the worship service. One of our elders will introduce this baby and charge the church with doing all things necessary in order to bring this child up in the way of the Lord through Christian community, to which the church replies together, “We will.” For a long time, I have thought about this occasional moment in our church’s service as something that drags it on longer and cuts into our class time following worship. For a while in fact, I would not reply, “We will,” along with the rest of the congregation, not because I wanted to introduce that kid to “drugs, sex, and rock & roll,” as some might say, but rather because that’s a long-term commitment. That baby is a baby. It’s not going away anytime soon. Being twenty years old, that is a life-long commitment. Life-long… Shoot, If I wanted to be responsible for the life and upbringing of a child, I would just have a kid… Not really HAVE a kid. Because, after all, there are a few things that need to happen first, or at least one thing anatomically… but you get the point, right? I’m not locking myself in to a bunch of babies for life, I got enough to worry about on my own.
Anyways, my thoughts on the matter have changed.
It hit me on Sunday that nearly 21 years ago, I was the baby being blessed from that pulpit. Then I realized the power in that. For my entire life, I have been blessed by many of the people that were in that building on Sunday, and many others who have sat through those dedications in the past. I look around at people who are like my caring aunts, goofy uncles, loving grandmothers, respectable grandfathers, cool older cousins, and not as cool older cousins. The point is that those people who made that commitment 21 years ago have time and time again come through on what they said. They made a commitment and are still in the process of seeing it through. Oddly enough, the guy who had the most recent baby was my first ever camp counselor ten years ago. So, you know what I did when the elder charged us with bringing this kid up in the church? I said, “We will.”
The church is not something that is linear. It is like a cycle that is constantly overlapping. Potentially, there will be a lot of babies born into the church before I’m gone. But at the same time, as those people who have played key roles in my upbringing are aging, I now have a responsibility to them. For example, one of my two grandmothers passed away in February. For the past few years, I had watched as my parents took great care of her daily. Two incredibly busy people, but they still worked tirelessly to give her the best quality of life possible. Now, my family is in that process with my remaining grandmother. I am so blessed to be around two great examples of faith and the overlapping cycle of the Christian life. So, while I am still young and am being encouraged by the church, I have a lot to offer to its other members. Both young, old, and middle, the church is a body.
“12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NLT
I know how cliche and overused this piece of text can be, but in all things that are cliche, there’s a reason for that. Things are cliche because they are so useful and practical. Let’s say that I am a thumb (I once had a friend describe me as a thumb. I didn’t know how to take it). If I was a stubborn thumb and decided that I was only going to watch out for myself and do thumb things, A. I would not be able to accomplish anything, B. The rest of the body would be seriously inconvenienced. So often we get caught up in ourselves. Not normally in some evil way, but often we get so concerned about being stretched too far, or not being able to come through with something we say we will do. Why was I originally super weirded out by pledging along with the church to bring children up in the way of the Lord? Not because I knew I would be a bad influence, but because I may not be around forever. I may be somewhere else, and someday not know that kid from Adam. But the pledge was not “I will do everything in my power to look out for this kid,” but instead “We will.” On Sunday, I made that pledge on behalf of the congregation. Am I currently a part of that congregation? Yes I am, but wherever I am, that church will still be looking after that child. New people will come and go, but God’s plan for His church is forever. God’s church is like a car, it has a ton of parts. Sometimes these parts need fixed, sometimes these parts need replaced, and sometimes parts get added that have never been in the car before, but with the steady hands of a great mechanic, that car will run like new. As long as we are holding to God’s steady hand, the church is going to keep trucking along.
We need each other. Every individual person has something to offer. I have something to offer, and if you’re reading this, you have something to offer as well.