Church needs all parts active to be healthy

The Bride and The Body

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

—1 Peter 2:17 (NIV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

—Romans 12:4-5 NIV

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work…

—Ephesians 4:16 NIV

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

—Matthew 16:18 NIV

My dad is a first-generation preacher. Yes, I’m a PK (preacher’s kid), and my kids are PKs, and all of my grandkids are PKs.

I really believe it began with my father’s heart; I can’t talk in any detail about that wonderful man of faith without talking about his incredible love affair with the Bride of Christ.

Just like any relationship, it’s flawed at times. I’ve seen him embraced and loved on; I’ve seen him held up and supported in prayer; I’ve seen him respected.

I’ve watched him enjoy fellowship and have fun. I’ve watched him get serious as he would share God’s wonderful word of love, grace, encouragement, direction, warning and vision.

I have also seen him hurt, crying over how the church he loved treated those close to him and those he cared about. I have seen how the church has hurt him at times (after all, he is a preacher). I have learned that when you love deep, you also hurt deep. Oh, how contagious is his spirit.

Twelve years ago, my wife, Sherri, was diagnosed with melanoma cancer. After the appropriate surgeries, she was told there would be be little chance of it returning — 5 to 10 percent.

This summer, she found an enlarged lymph node, and we discovered that nasty disease had come back. Three weeks ago, she came home from work with some numbness in her legs, and by the time we got her admitted into the hospital, she was paralyzed from the diaphragm down. They found three melanoma spots lodged in her spinal chord and two spots in her brain.

If you have had a chance to know me for more than an hour, you would know what an incredible woman I married 41 years ago.

Well, now that I have your attention, Sherri has recently been classified as paraplegic, which means one-third of the her body has to work for the other two-thirds. We have been in acute rehabilitation for a little over a week, and I have watched her develop her skills with very little outside assistance to be almost independently functional (she will always need me). It has amazed me, the strength development, commitment and determination it has taken for her to succeed. I’m so proud!

It would be nice for her to have a healthy body again and see it functioning like it did three weeks ago, but something is wrong with her legs.

The Bible tells us, “Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (Romans 12:4-5, The Message).

If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body of believers, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist (see Ephesians 4:16).

It is frustrating when one-third of the Body of Christ works in a healthy way, while struggling to function as a Church that is 100 percent healthy and in tune with the mission and vision of Christ. You see this all around, even in churches that are “happy,” because they have never experienced a healthy body.

I am more concerned about you. A disconnected body part can shrivel and die; that makes me cry. I love the Bride of Christ. I am devoted to being a part of His body, and if the body doesn’t work, it hurts the whole.

The Bible says, “Love your spiritual family” (1 Peter 2:17, The Message).

“Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored. The Church is God’s agenda for the world. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it’” (Matthew 16:18, New Living Translation).

My Dad loves the Church. He taught me to love her as well. I have learned when you love deep, you hurt deep. I also cry when the body is in in trouble.

The Bride is the Body.

You all have a great Christ-filled day.

Del Hamon is pastor of Northside Christian Church in Greenfield. This column is written by local clergy members.