She hobbled around the house, limping and shuffling and lurching her way slowly out to the kitchen to prepare supper. She groaned as every inch of her body throbbed with aches and pains, and whimpered with every step. Poor little old lady! Wait—that’s no old lady! That’s—me!
Well, I’m kind of old (I am the grandmother of thirteen beautiful kids, after all!), but not that old! If you know me well, though, you know that I am a klutz. I’ve never broken an arm or a leg—but I think I’ve broken just about every one of my toes—some of them two or three times! My family likes to tease me about my short, stubby toes (they all have long, slender toes—the kind that could actually pinch you! I know from experience!) Somehow, however, those chubby, nubby little piggies manage to catch on everything. And when it’s not my toes, it’s my feet, slipping on ice more than once, resulting in nasty sprains, or falling down stairs or—well, you get the picture.
My foot issues are not always due to accidents, though. I’ve suffered with swelling, painful feet since I was 18 years old. I got plantar fasciitis two weeks before my first trip to Ecuador, and if you’ve ever known anyone who has had that, you know how excruciating that can be. The last few years have produced nerve pain and numbness. *Sigh* Yes, I spend a great deal of time dealing with foot problems and hobbling around like a little old, really old, lady.
I don’t even know what I did this time. I just know two weeks ago I somehow hurt my foot. I ignored the twinge I first felt and went shopping anyway. By the time I got home I could hardly walk. I’ve tried to baby it since then as much as possible, but yesterday I went shopping again. That little old lady I described above? That was me last night. My foot was screaming. My other foot joined in a duet, and that hip ached as well from putting more weight on the opposite side in order to cosset the injured foot. My back writhed in protest from walking crookedly. My head hurt and my spirits plummeted. It was a vicious chain reaction.
More than 400 years BC, the Greek philosopher Socrates said something quite profound, “When one’s feet hurt, one hurts all over.” Well, duh. I’m sure we’ve all been there, done that and it doesn’t take a Greek philosopher to point out that little nugget of wisdom.
The Bible, however, does have something to teach us about the connection of feet with the rest of the body. I Corinthians 12:12-27 says, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”
You see? “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” I have it on Biblical authority—when your feet hurt, everything hurts!
Ok, I’m being a little facetious here. Of course this passage of Scripture is likening the Body of Christ, which is the Church, to our human bodies. Our bodies are made up of many parts—feet, of course, hands, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, brain, eyelashes, fingernails… Big parts and little parts—they all have a purpose and work together for the good of the whole body. God’s creation of the human body is amazing—awesomely and wonderfully knit together by Him. (Psalm 139:14) His creation is varied, too—no two bodies are exactly the same. Some are more athletic, some more intelligent, some sing better than others, some have business sense and others don’t. Each one is loved by the Creator, though—so much that He gave His Son to be our Savior.
His creation does not stop there. I Corinthians 12 tells us that, like our physical bodies, the Body of Christ—the Church—is His creation and made up of many parts. Every believer in Jesus Christ is a member of that Body and each member, no matter his gifts or ministry, race or background, is a valuable and necessary and equal part of the Body. He has made us one body, bound together by the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ. The following verses (vs. 27-28) enumerate some of the diverse ministries and gifts with which He has blessed the individual members of the Body. We are each one called by Him to use those gifts and abilities with which He has blessed us, whether great or small, for the edifying and encouragement of the whole Body—building up the Body, strengthening it and enabling it to fulfill the Great Commission to which Christ has called us. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Yes, I Corinthians 12:26 says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it”, but it goes on to say, “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome a similar message about being one body made up of many parts and blessed with diverse gifts in Romans 12:3-8, but then he went on in verses 9-21 to instruct how we ought to treat one another within the Body, and even those without. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let us be open to other members of the Body, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. Be at peace with others. Respect one another. Be humble. Overcome evil with good. Bless those who persecute you. Love and honor one another. Be diligent, fervent and persevering. Rejoice in hope. Pray, pray, pray. Be charitable, helpful and hospitable to one another. We build up the Body of Christ when we use the gifts and abilities God has given us in His service. We make it healthy and happy when we exercise them with love for one another.
I can’t wait for my new, glorified body with feet that will never hurt again! Until then, I may limp along physically, but I pray that spiritually I will continue to run the race without faltering!