Summary: There is a message that the Body of Christ emits to the world. We issue Body language through the non-verbal communication of our presence and interactions with people on a daily basis.
(Picture) Rebecca Cory is a standup comic. She is best known for her appearance on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”. I do not vouch for her brand of comedy because I have never heard her personally. I mention her because her routine is apparently quite engaging and she draws large audiences. Part of her success is attributed to her body language that accompanies her jokes.
Body language is a means of communication through body movements or gestures. Folding arms, a leaning posture, or a squinted face all protray a message without use of words.
There is a message that the Body of Christ emits to the world. We give off Body language through the non-verbal communication of our presence and interactions with people on a daily basis. This is true whether we look at the global community of Christian faith or our own individual interactions with our neighbors next door. The question we must ask ourselves is what message are we communicating through our Body language?
In today’s text, the apostle Paul uses the physical body to illustrate three particular aspects of the spiritual body or the body of Christ and how we relate and contribute to that body. These lessons are presented with a funnel effect to my mind. The lesson begins with the Body of Christ in her global context of our spiritual heritage, finally arriving at the relationships that we have every day. He goes on to speak of love as the one sure thing needed for us to communicate the right Body language to all citizenships, cultures and faith communities because the language of love speaks to hope, acceptance, forgiveness, and relationship to God.
Paul first speaks to the issue of
1. Ethnic Origins
• Verse 13a (Jews or Greeks)
The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church recognizes “A Unique Opportunity to Share the Gospel through Church Planting.” Quoting a U.S.A. Census they offer that “Ethnic people constitute 31 percent of the United States population. Hispanics represent 12.5 percent, African-Americans 12.1 percent, and Asians 3.6 percent of the United States population. More Jews live in America than in Israel. More Cubans live in Miami than in any city in Cuba except Havana. More Polish people reside in Chicago than in any city except Warsaw, Poland. More Amenians live in Los Angeles than in any city in the world. Multiethnics are a majority in twenty-five U.S. cities, including 61 percent of Chicago, 73 percent of New York, and 78 percent of Los Angeles. According to future projections, by 2060, the Asian population of the United States will surpass 42 million and the Hispanic population 115 million.” Their stated vision is an intention to train Great Commission leaders who will plant and grow Great Commission churches.
In this account we have a solid representation of how God would have us view the global community. He would have us see all people as his people, created in his image. It is amusing how we generally have an image that God is of our own ethnic origin. Glenys and I spent three years in Bermuda as pastors of a local church. The first Christmas was a fascinating experience! Santa arrived Christmas eve on a motorcycle! Not only that, but Santa was not white! Obviously there is no reason to think he would be, except for the perceptions that we generate in our own minds.
My spirit is troubled when I interact with people, especially those more closely connected with a metropolis like Toronto. Racism is rampant as people crudely stereotype non-white communities of people. Friends God is not only the God of Anglo-Saxons. When he created us in his own image he meant everyone ever born. Our problem in trying to understand this is our limited ludicrous notion that we understand and comprehend God.
What is the Body language of our church in relationship to our treatment of differing nationalities and ethnic communities? In Owen Sound we have a growing population of Chinese, South Asian, Black, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Arab and Japanese communities. This number is likely to grow and we need to be communicating through our Body language that they are welcome with us – not welcome to come and adapt to our way of doing things – but welcome to come and live their own ethnic experience in our fellowship. This is that experience Paul speaks of in verse 13 about being “baptized by one Spirit into one body.” There is a definite work of God that brings us together as one community, not multiple communities. We are one community with multiple expressions and ethnic realities. We are the work of God on his canvas of creation that is the color and bright variety of all the work he has done! This gets lost when we focus on the nation or denomination as having specific characteristics. The only underlying emphasis in ethnic community should be our baptism by the one Holy Spirit into one body.