Community: The Wounds of Fellowship

This is the first of five parts dealing with some of the challenges of community life.

“…His appearance was marred more than any other man, and His form more than the sons of men…”

~~Isaiah, the prophet.

“What happened to your arm?”

It’s a question that I get asked often. There is a scar across my right elbow where I tried (and fortunately failed) to chop off my arm with a gas-powered pruning saw. The accident happened over twenty years ago. When I am asked about the scar, I tell about the wound.

Wounds tell stories. In Christ’s body after the resurrection, they told of redemption and eternal life. Now, the body of Christ is the church and it, too, has wounds that tell the story.

From Christ’s Body to the Body of Christ

Jesus, the suffering servant, carried away the sins of the world —His generation, the generations before, and the sins of the generations to come. He took the wounds in His body and unleashed a tidal wave of reconciliation that was to rush upon the human race and pour out across the millennia to touch even us.

But why did Jesus have to bear the scars of crucifixion even after His resurrection? Surely a resurrected body could have been a perfect, unscarred body. Why the scars? Because scars are evidence of wounds and Christ’s wounds proved something. They proved that life had been poured out. They proved brokenness is the cost of healing. His eternal, resurrected body bore the marks of the horror of sin in order to prove that sin and rebellion cannot be undone but must be forgiven—horribly, passionately, and continually forgiven.

Thomas, the disciple, needed proof that the cross meant something more than another martyr’s death. Jesus offered him the evidence of His resurrected presence: He showed him His hands and His feet. It was the fatal wounds of the living Lord that stood as proof of redemption.

Today, when we take the bread and the cup of the Eucharist (literally, “the good gift), we see Jesus as Thomas did, pierced through and crushed. We say, “our Lord and our God!” as we look upon the living One—his shattered hands and feet, His pierced side.

And when we leave the table we are the hands and feet of the living Lord, no less wounded. It must be so because wounds prove something. They prove that the work of Christ goes on and that sin is not undone, but forgiven. Jesus’ wounds should have been lethal, but they were merely mortal. Their presence bore witness to the miracle of resurrection life. Likewise, the wounds of the church should destroy her daily, but the church, like her Lord, lives on. Her wounds prove that life—supernatural and vibrant— is within and among us.

Living with wounds is hard. But God calls us to more than that. To live beyond them and in spite of them is the word of our testimony to the world.

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