If you read your bible carefully, you will find that Jesus emphasized the individual. He did not choose the rich of the world or those who inherited religious or political power, but just the ordinary. Worldly honor and true humility rarely run in the same veins. Even the two talent man was commended and awarded two more because he used the talent that was his to use (Matthew 25:23). We find ourselves complaining about what God failed to give us. Our sense of values is distorted. We tend to minimize all work which will not bring to us honor and prestige. We become more interested in credit than the cross. We will be great or we will be nothing.
John Brodie, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever seen in professional football was interviewed in 1970 by sports illustrated. Question: “Why do you, a great million dollar quarterback, hold the ball for field goals and extra points?” His answer was simple, serene and beautiful. “Well”, said Brodie. “If I didn’t hold the ball, it would fall over!”
We live in a day that honors bigness and winning at all costs. Everything has to be great-cool-enormous- awesome and tremendous. There seems to be little room in life for the ‘also-rans’. We hail the front runner and tend to ignore and despise the ordinary.
A young man was employed by the government as a census taker. He was a college graduate with a rather high opinion of himself. People, ‘especially the poor’ were held in distain. Unfortunately for him, his territory only included the slums of the city. The job paid well or he would have been the last seen knocking at the doors of such places.
One row of houses seemed especially deplorable, with their broken fences, dirty kids in rags, muddy yards filled with trash thrown about. Approaching the first, unpainted and ill kept house, he hesitated, and then knocked sharply on the door. The door squeaked slightly open and a frail frightened woman peered through with fearful eyes.
He exposed his badge proudly and identified himself as an official census taker. His tone was sharp and unpleasant. The first question was simple and direct. “Madam, what is the number of your children?” She hesitated as though uncertain of what he meant; then in a hushed tone, hardly above a whisper she said, “There’s Mary and Sammy, Susie, and Tom and Frederick and Becky and . . .”No, No,” he interrupted rudely, “I don’t want the names, I just want the numbers!” There was a long pause and then she began again, “There’s Mary and Sammy, Susie and Tom, Frederick and Becky and . . . “Madam”, he said abruptly, “For the last time, I don’t want the names I just want the number.” “Well sir,” she said in her humble way, “”All my childrens got names, they ain’t got numbers!”
What a graphic lesson to learn. He had been dealing with paper and pencil, and endless flow of meaningless charts and numbers. For the first time he learned that each number represented an individual just like himself, with joys and sorrows, headaches and heartaches, with a conscience and feeling and a yearning to be counted, not by number but by name.
God loves us, not by mass, but one by one. Christ does not save us in groups lots or number, but one by one. The church does not save anyone. The church IS THE SAVED! (Acts 2:38-47). The Bible is one book, read by one person at a time. The key word in the Bible is one and the emphasis is on the individual.
Each member of the body of Christ should be an active working member, just as each member of our physical body must accept its responsibility and function and serve. The apostle Paul writes, “And those members of the body that we think that are less honorable, upon those we bestow more abundant honor, and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness” (I Corinthians 12:23).
In 1989, I was awakened by the doctor in Emory hospital who was examining me for possible abnormality. He was plain spoken but kind. “Mr. Exum, you have cancer.” “Where did you discover it?” I asked. “It was deep in your colon, nearly to the joining of the small intestines. We had gone as far as we could with our instruments, but I had a feeling that we needed to explore just a bit farther. That’s where we found it.” “Can you operate tomorrow?” I asked. “No we can’t get ready that quick.” Three days later I was under the light on the table.
The operation was successful. A vital part of my body had been invaded and had to be excised. The colon was not like my hand or foot or eye or any part of the body that is exposed to use. Yet it was vital and demanding if life would continue. The principle is simple. The total life of the body is more important than one member. I really had no idea of just how important my colon was to me. In fact I didn’t really know where it was or what it did. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “And those members we think that are less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor”.
“I sought myself, my self I could not see
I sought my God, my God eluded me
I sought my brother and found all three.”