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No disembodied limbs in the body of Christ

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Healthy living.

Its reputation has been somewhat sullied by association with difficulty. The choices that are good for us seem hard or unpleasant. Yet we know it’s for our benefit in the end.

Whether for health or for principle, making habits that contribute to our well-being is not always easy.
Delicious food seems to correlate disproportionately with high calories, and relaxing on the couch (beneficial as it may be to read a good book or enjoy a thoughtful film in good company) does not burn many of those calories.

For those in ministry, making healthy choices can feel like an obstacle to getting things done. There are multitudes of personal visits, often over food; church potlucks where you’re obligated to try each dear member’s dish; hours of sitting poring over sermon research or being a present listener; interrupted sleep schedules; perhaps travel obligations for even more meetings.

Yet the resources God has entrusted to us for our good use include not only our finances, our hearts, God’s creation, and our time, but also our health.

As in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30), not all receive the same portion when it comes to health; nevertheless, we each have gifts that can be managed or mismanaged. “Responsible living includes a full acknowledgement that life, time, abilities, opportunities, and material goods are from God” (Confession of Faith, Article 15: stewardship).
Our bodies as the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), but that temple itself requires care. In this life, our body is inseparable from our mind and has an effect on its well-being. The features in this issue explore some aspects of this responsibility.


The body is also a metaphor for the church (Ephesians 4:4).
What does healthy living look like for the church body? What makes a healthy diet for the body of Christ? Reading Scripture, praying, speaking words of affirmation, offering confession to those we have wronged and to God.
What does exercise look like for the church body? Gathering to worship together, supporting each other through difficult times, looking beyond the needs of our church to those in the wider community and in our fellowships around the world.
Why do we need fellowship with each other to worship God?

we wonder. Why participate in an association of churches when we are strong on our own? we ask.
It would be unthinkable to sever one part of the physical body from another; why do we imagine the church can exist as the body of Christ in the world without a connection?

The apostle Paul explored this familiar analogy in 1 Corinthians 12: “If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

Our physical bodies contain so much diversity; why would the body of Christ be any different? It shouldn’t surprise us that unity in the body of Christ doesn’t look like sameness or agreement on everything, but like many different parts, all working together.

In 2018, the MB churches in Canada have chosen a different model of governance that loosens our structural ties to one another. The choice to be unified won’t always be easy. As we seek to be the body of Christ in our neighbourhoods, how will we maintain those connections to each other across the country?

The hands of Christ who offer a cup of cold water and the feet who bring good news cannot operate without being attached to the whole body. The ears attuned to the voice of God and the cries of the hurting, the stomach that digests and draws nourishment from theological study – these cannot operate on their own. Each must inform the other, connected in a bond of unity through the Spirit and maintained in relationship.

In this new day, how will the Mennonite Brethren of Canada make healthy choices for a unified body of Christ?

[Karla Braun

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