A lot of people get hurt in churches. It shouldn’t, however, if surprise us because of what the church is: a united body made of up very diverse members. Folks in church are truly and spiritually connected with one another. The Apostle Paul this well:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
As church members, we are genuinely united to other believers like members of a body are united together under the leadership of the head.
An Often Forgotten Reason for Church Hurt
So, why does church hurt? Since we’re spiritually and relationally connected with those in our churches, we’re affected by both their pleasures and pains. The Apostle Paul makes this connection when he says:
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26
The members of our body are not immune to the hardships or unhealth of other members. And so it is with the church body as well.
Jerry Bridges applies this reality well.
Can you imagine the ear making the following comment to the eye? “Say, did you hear about the serious trouble the foot is having? My, my, isn’t it too bad? That foot surely ought to get his act together.” No, no, our bodies don’t behave that way at all! Instead the entire body cries out, “My foot hurts! I feel awful!”
Why does the whole body hurt when only one part is injured? It is because all the parts of the body make up one indivisible whole. And when one part hurts, no matter what the reason, the restorative powers of the entire body are brought to bear on that hurting member. Rather than attacking that suffering part or ignoring the problem, the rest of the body demonstrates concern for the part that hurts. This is the way the body of Christ should function…
Only as we become acutely aware of the truth that we are in fellowship with every other believer — like it or not — will we seek to work out the implications of that fellowship in loving concern and care for each other.
(Taken from True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia [Kindle Locations 672-673])
Being members of a church offers us both the gift of enjoying one another’s good times and enduring one another’s bad times. Even more, we’re blessed by one another’s virtues and often burdens with one another’s vices. Church life, then, is replete with both joy and sorrow as we walk with one another side by side.
Maybe a word it fitting here. If you’ve found church difficult at times, instead of being disheartened, you may have reason for encouragement: you’re close enough with your church family to be affected by them. As for others, is it possible you find little joy or hardship from your church family not because there isn’t any to be found, but because your not close enough to feel it?
Realizing what the church is will equip us to know how to make sense of our experience and instruct us on how to walk through the more difficult times. Only by realizing we are one through Jesus will we begin to act like as one in Jesus.