Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. —Romans 12:10 NIV
Egg cartons are incredibly useful and extremely versatile! It would not be surprising to learn that millions of dollars have been spent to develop the very best egg cartons possible. In addition to ensuring the safekeeping of the eggs from farm to market, the list of things these cardboard creations (okay, sometimes they are made of Styrofoam) are used for is quite extensive. One thing egg cartons cannot do is correctly represent the way members of the church for which Jesus shed His blood are called to live in community with one another.
Tragically, though, egg cartons do seem to symbolize the life and times of some congregations. This is especially true if time spent on neatly arranged, relatively comfortable, pews with sufficient roominess so as to insulate the worshipper from an intrusion into to his or her personal space, is the typical extent to which interaction occurs. Some have reported it to be extremely difficult, if not bordering on being hypocritical, to sing “Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love…” when our most common view of many fellow-saints is the back of their heads.
One way that God has chosen to enable us to understand the nature of our relationship with Him is to explain that the church is a body. No, not a body, but the body of Christ! (See: Colossians 1:18) Indeed, the church of Christ is a living organism, composed of many different members, all of which make their own special contribution toward the functioning of the whole body. This is precisely described in Ephesians 4:16. Here we read:
From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV)
It is quite difficult to see a bunch of Christians neatly packaged in egg cartons in this verse. In a body all the parts are interdependent. In an egg carton all the eggs are independent. In the body of Christ an individual makes her contribution by mixing, mingling and working in harmony with other members. Egg cartons, however, keep all the eggs isolated from one another. There is definitely no mixing and no mingling.
The bottom line: When the church is knit together through that which every joint supplies—functions as a body—it grows and builds itself up in love. This is precisely as God has designed it to be! Let’s go beyond “Egg Carton Christianity.” Let’s do whatever it takes to get out of our neatly arranged, isolated spaces and into one another’s lives. Let’s encourage one another! Let’s bear one another’s burdens and admonish one another! With God as our strength, let’s really love one another!
© Bill Williams
June 14, 2006