Building Unity in Community

By Gena Anderson

What do you think is the most important part of the human skeleton? If someone put me on the spot and asked me that, I’d have a hard time choosing because all parts are important for one reason or another, but would probably go with the spine or skull. The skull protects the brain and is clearly crucial, and the spine holds us upright and protects the nervous system so those signals from our brain can get to the body. I would not, however, have given any consideration to the ligaments that connect those bones together, creating function and unity in a system that would otherwise be only a pile of bones. But God would, and he tells us why through Paul the Apostle.

In Ephesians, a letter encouraging unity in the church, Paul writes about Christ being the head of the church and the people being the body. In chapter four he tells us Jesus gave each person gifts, equipping the individual to do ministry in community, collectively working to build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). He says the whole body is “fitted and knitted together by every supporting ligament” (Eph. 4:16).

Christians today often refer to themselves as the hands and feet of Jesus, but I never hear anyone boldly proclaim to be Jesus’s ligament. When I read Paul’s description of the body of Christ, I was struck by his chosen emphasis. He could have mentioned so many parts of a body. Out of all the organs, bones, and complex components that make up our bodies, the two things Paul chooses to highlight in this letter are Christ as the head, and ligaments. As I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to explore this seemingly strange metaphor some things began to make sense.

The big bones are useless without ligaments. So often we want to be seen, stand out like a big sexy femur, but God needs connectors as much as he needs strong leaders. Wherever you are right now, God has you there for a significant purpose, even if it feels like you’re hidden between all the bigger and better things around you.

Ligaments unify and unite. Their purpose is to bring parts together so the body can function. Start making connections. Introduce yourself to a new person, join a group, or connect two friends with similar interests.

Ligaments are strong but flexible. We are called to stand firm in the faith with a willingness to bend so the body of Christ doesn’t break. Stand in the gap for your loved ones. Pray without ceasing, empower without controlling, and correct without condemning.

Enabling others to do what they were created to do, and furthering the ministry of Jesus by hidden heroics impacts God’s kingdom more than the world will ever see or acknowledge. 

Who are you supposed to bring together? 

How can you foster community?

What can you do to connect the body of Christ?

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