Useless Body Parts?

I noticed a link today on MSN that touted the Top 10 Most Useless Body Parts. They had me at “useless” so I had to check it out. I could have guessed some of the parts they perceived as useless. Parts like tonsils, adenoids and appendixes. Many argue that those parts are, in fact, useful. But clearly we can live without any or all of them. Some parts on the list were surprising and a bit odd.

For example, I was not aware of my plica semilunaris. You may not know it, but you have a third eyelid. Pull open the two more noticeable eyelids and take a look — it’s located right in the corner by the tear duct. That explains why I want to take a nap every afternoon. It is tough to hold all three eyelids open after lunch. Also on the list are sinuses. My wife would agree that sinuses are useless except to produce patience and longsuffering. Doctors don’t really know much about sinuses — only that we have a lot of them. Possibilities for their function range from insulating our eyes to changing the pitch and tone of our voice. The article determined that the arrector pili are also pretty much useless. The arrector pili make our hair stand up and gives us goose bumps. Also on the list are wisdom teeth. Before we advanced dental care our teeth tended to fall out. Therefore, when those reserve molars, aka “wisdom teeth,” came in, they were welcomed. Nowadays, fluoride and dental plans have made them just a huge pain.

The list was interesting but unconvincing. It seemed to me that most of the list was at least somewhat useful but not critical to survival. I thought about how the Bible describes every Christian as being part of the body of Christ. Thankfully archaeologists have not discovered stone tablets with a list of ten useless types of people in the body of Christ. On the contrary, Scripture makes it clear that every part of the body of Christ is vital to healthy function of the church.

I was reminded how might look in practice when I attended a Christmas concert featuring Christian artist Michael W.Smith. Michael has more musical talent in one arrector pili than I have in my entire body. And I confess that I entertained a bit of envy in the early part of the concert. I always wanted to be a musician but I never was willing to commit to that whole practice and hard work thing. And that seemed to slow my progress as a musical talent. Right after I moved past my talent deficit envy I happened to notice (really notice) something that happens at every concert and stage event. At the end of a stirring song a stagehand quietly and efficiently moved onto the stage, set up two microphones and left without fanfare.

And it occurred to me that his small role in this gigantic production was enormously important. The next event was Smith reading the Christmas account from Scripture as a musician accompanied his narration. Because of the unnoticed stagehand the transition was seamless and the effect was powerful. No one applauded the stagehand. He might have felt unappreciated. He might have envied the acclaim that Michael W.Smith receives. He might have noticed that the audience applauded the arrival of the first chair violinist and the conductor. He might have wished for the rousing applause reserved for the other vocalists and the instrumental soloists.

But I kept thinking about the stagehand who carefully set the mikes in exactly the right place. I thought about the dozens of unseen technicians that made a magical evening of music happen. Incredibly vital people who did their jobs without a single moment of public adoration. And I think that is what Paul is saying when he talks about how the body of Christ should function. God always sees the stagehand that humbly does his part. God values the technician who makes the music happen without personal recognition. I believe that God would view that stagehand’s seemingly insignificant contribution as being every bit as important as the people in the spotlight when that small role is offered with worship.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he wrote about the distribution of spiritual gifts.

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.

I realize that I am prone to say it is all about Him and then get upset if no one notices me. So who is it really all about? If my service is for Him I am confident that God takes note. Should it really matter if anyone else does? I am the first to confess that such notice is nice and appreciated. But should it really matter?

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

I am not always glad when another part of the body is honored. How quickly I forget the unmerited gift of grace. If we really comprehended what that meant would we ever question what is in it for me? It is so obvious that I have been given so many gifts of grace whether I gain kudos or not. As I meditate on that today I pray that I will choose to praise God and be content even if He asks me to be the anonymous stagehand that no one ever applauds. My part (and yours) is vital even if it seems no one notices. The truth is that the most important observer does notice. So if you are feeling like a third eyelid or a goose bump just remember this. You are a child of God imputed with His righteousness. You are a saint and you have a new identity rooted in Christ Himself. With a bio like that your role should not define you.