Ow! I have busted my toe. Again.
I have a habit of breaking toes. I seriously can’t count how many toes I’ve broken, but I figure by now I’ve made it through all ten digits and I’m working my way through them again. And that other spot on my foot, that would be where a shard of glass punctured my foot.
I don’t know why I have this particular predilection for toe-breaking. Other people seem to make it through life without ever breaking a single toe. My feet aren’t that enormous, pretty average for someone my height.
I think there are two things that are at the core of the issue. The first one is the fact that I rarely wear shoes. The temperate weather here in Orange County makes it tempting to wander around in sandals and at home, I tend to kick them off and walk around in bare feet. The more I read about my health, especially for people who suffer from chronic pain, the more I realize I have to put shoes back on my feet. The problem is, I’ve been out of the shoe habit for so many years, it’s really hard to get back into it.
The second issue, and I’m sure the real reason why I keep busting my toes, is that I’m a klutz. There’s really no other reasonable explanation. Instead of walking around furniture I am constantly testing my super-human abilities to walk through solid objects, but physics keep getting in the way.
Newton’s first law of physics states that “Every object (my foot) persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces (a chair) impressed on it.” This and the other laws of physics were discovered in 1687. I’m pretty sure they were working before Newton, and are firmly set in the universe, yet I have been trying to defy them ever since!
So what does my toe-breaking have to do with the body of Christ? Paul actually spoke about this very thing in his first letter to the church in Corinth. Well, he didn’t talk about my broken toe or Orange County or Newton and his laws of physics or the fact that I’m a klutz, but he did talk about the body and, well… just read it.
A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster.
What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary.
You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
1 Corinthians 12:14-27 (The Message)
I have to admit, when I read the part about choosing between good digestion and full-bodied hair, I hesitated. I didn’t leap to good digestion. I like my hair. I’ve always had good hair. I admit it. I’m vain. But then, I remembered what it was like when I was really sick and I was consuming vast quantities of pain medications every day. I will spare you the details, but let me tell you this, I did not care a whit about my hair, but I was begging the doctor to do something about my gut.
All of this brings me back to my toe. So little and insignificant, after all, it’s my baby toe. But, it is a gripping toe and an important little toe. When it is broken I feel it every time I stand up, every time I walk or move. It is really making it’s presence known.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the broken toe in the body of Christ, or maybe the spleen or tibia. I never feel like I’m the hand or the head or the heart. Just some minor part that you don’t think about until it’s broken or hurting. But, like Paul said, “it is only because of what you are a part of”. Somehow, the Creator makes all these disparate parts work when we submit our parts to him. And when a part is hurting, broken and wounded, the rest of the body should feel it and tend to it.
I have to accept my part as the body of Christ and not look at it as insignificant. Every part is important. I also need to tend to the other parts when I see that they are hurting or wounded. “If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt and in the healing.”
The next time you look at your little toe, remember, you weren’t meant to do this on your own. We are all connected, one part as important as the other.
And I promise, no more pictures of my feet!