I don’t know if Paul was into cartoons but the picture he sketches in 1 Corinthians 12 about bits of the body could well make a good Pixar short. An ear wanders up to an eye (presumably on its own legs) and mutters about wanting to leave the rest of the body. And then a foot comes hopping along demanding that it be set free from the leg it’s on. It’s a scene of mumbling and complaining where various parts of the body are disappointed with their lot. Before long, no doubt, the kidney and the liver will go five rounds with each other, and the bottom will be playing rock paper scissors against the funny bone. Add a couple of sisters, a singing snowman and a lot of ice and hey! you’ve got Frozen 2!
What’s it all for? Paul’s gone into the realms of Loony Toons in order to make the point that the body of Jesus is a wonderful mish-mash of diverse parts. And we’re not all the same, doing the same job. We have different roles to play, drawing on our personalities, experiences, strengths and weaknesses. I take a lot of encouragement from that, as I often feel on the outside looking in, not able to find my place in the ordinary way of Christian things. If there is such a thing. But thank God, we can all find our place, and we don’t have to ape what others are doing. If I’m the ear wax in the body then I’m doing a vital job. The body would have problems without me. I may not be the best looking, but I’m there for a reason. Here’s a little anecdotal piece on the subject of feeling different.
It’s as if they are standing outside a shop window, in fact a whole row of shop windows, a couple of small children with their noses pressed against the glass, peering in. And they are quite happy there, happy on their own, happy to look on. But every so often one of them gets the feeling that he or she should be inside one of the shops, even though experience has shown them they would feel ill at ease in there. So they question themselves and their place outside those windows. There are plenty of others with them, if only they might take the time to notice. And thankfully the landowner is out there too. He’s a man who gets about, happy in the shops and happy outside of them, and happy for the boy and girl to be where they are. More than happy, he encourages them to make the most of their place out there. To relax and prosper on that pavement and, when they have the chance, to tell those inside the shops what they see. The most difficult times come when they are invited inside the shops by others, because they know they’ll feel total aliens in there. Lonely, even though the place is crowded. They are best outside looking in and passing on what they see. Plunge them into the world of the shops and they are painfully at sea. Often drowning. Fortunately, when that happens, the landowner comes to the rescue, dragging them to safety and the solid ground of the street outside. It’s tempting to be complacent on their strip of solid ground, but there’s always more to see, more to learn, as they wrestle to accept that they are outside and others are in there. And from time to time they are reminded of the landowner’s patience and are grateful for his kindness as he waits with them on that street, and paces those pavements alongside them.