Continuing my series of “Disruptive Devotionals” designed to question and subvert our standard way of thinking, consider this passage:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (I Cor. 12:14, 27).
My own takeaway from this metaphor — which is used in several places in Paul’s letters — is that “Christ” is not present to the world the way he was when he walked around Galilee healing the sick and yelling at religious people. He is not an earthly flesh-and-blood man anymore, is what I’m saying.
Instead, the way Christ is present is by means of other people. The “whole Christ,” as St. Augustine put it, consists of the Son of God as the Head of a mystical Body comprised of flesh-and-blood people like us who are his hands, his feet, and so on.
What’s my point, you ask?
Well, many Christians seem to think that they have some sort of direct hotline to God, a kind of unmediated access that bypasses all the messiness of humanity and enables them to get their cancer cured and score kick-ass parking spots at Costco on Sunday afternoons without having to stoop to the level of the earthly and mundane (which is so boring and unsexy).
But what if “God” doesn’t work like that?
Perhaps a healthier and more human approach would be to resign ourselves to the fact that our only access to the divine is by means of the icons and sacraments of earth, and that parking spots are mostly found because of luck and cancer is usually cured by chemo?
Since grace builds upon nature rather than bypassing it, and since “Christ” is a mystical Person that only exists insofar as we be him to the world by our acts of mercy and sacrifice, then the sooner we stop asking God to step in and fix all of our problems, the better.
Whether we’re talking about diabetes, gun deaths, or your fractured relationship with your family, the fact of the matter is that asking for direct and unmediated help from an invisible Guy in the Sky is less likely to bring about the change you desire than actually doing something about these things on a practical level.
And who knows? Maybe the advice of your doctor or your therapist simply is the way your prayers are supposed to be answered? And furthermore, maybe your sacrifice of time or resources is one of the ways you are called to be Christ to those who are hurting around you?
Hence the irony: Forgetting God even exists may be the most powerful way to encounter him.