Don’t forget to floss.
It was a text from my sister. She helps me get my act together. Basically, she sees the important areas where I’m dropping the ball and provides a support structure to assist me. For example, I have about ten million photos in digital form. She got hold of my phone, uploaded the Groove App, and set my photos to be printed and delivered to my house monthly. (Whatever. How was I supposed to know it was that easy to get my dumb photos in albums all along?)
So, the flossing thing. Well, I’m just going to be honest about this. I am very good at brushing my teeth. By very good I mean I brush them about 100 times a day. I love brushing my teeth. I even occasionally get tweezers and use the sharp edge to scrape off any plaque that has formed. (It turns out I am not physically capable of making dental appointments, so I have to take annual cleanings into my own hands.)
But flossing? I can’t do it. I don’t know why. I’m not good at remembering, and I hate doing it. There are a lot of reasons why I fail at this particular important body-care ritual, none of which held up to my sister’s scrutiny, and so she is now texting me reminders. I will admit that I do have some receding gum issues (self-diagnosed because you know . . . I don’t make appointments and also google. So who really needs a dentist when you have tweezers and google?)
The truth is that I’ve never been great at body care.
When people started using essential oils to treat illness, I bought more tylenol and ibuprofen–chemical cure-alls (and cheaper).
When the doctor said I should rehab my knee for 6 months, I went for 3 and called it good. (Okay, I’m regretting that.)
When people said our food was full of chemicals and hormones, and we should only eat carrots and wheat grass, I was like, “I’m already married to Doritos and Coke Zero is my middle name, so I guess I’ll just stay the course.”
But over the years I’ve begun to realize, when one part of the body doesn’t work properly, other parts begin to suffer. So I’ve got some issues . . .
The good knee that compensates for the bad knee is mad at me now.
The hip above the bad knee also filed a suit against me.
There is the arm flab that flaps as I wash dishes reminding me I was supposed to do light body weight exercise to stay toned.
And of course there are the receding gums pointing fingers at the unopened floss in my vanity drawer. Who knew flossing would really turn out to be “preventative”?
(Just know that while I fail in some areas, I do have skills. My underwear drawer is folded and color-coordinated, for example. Also, if you are in a crisis, I am your girl. I will show up with coffee, cinnamon rolls, and a dart gun in case the crisis involves killing someone. Also, my purse always has all the things. All. The. Things. I’m talking a nail kit, lighter, tylenol-ibuprofen (see earlier), gum, lotion, chap-stick, tissue, fan, tweezers (see earlier), toothbrush and paste (also see earlier), notepad, screw-driver, knife, deodorant, protein bar, bottle of water . . . boy scout level preparedness happens in my purse, people. )
Regardless of my skills in filling purses, the reality is that I stink at flossing and other forms of caring for my physical body which, it turns out, is all connected. Every part of it affects the rest of it, including my gums.
I think Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He called Christians the body of Christ because it turns out there is this great cosmic-collide of souls that occurs when people put their faith in Christ. We all end up IN HIM.
Literally. All the Christians. All over the planet. All in the same Container–Jesus.
In Christ, you who once were far have been brought near.–Ephesians 2:13
For we are members of his body.—Ephesians 5:30
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.–2 Cor. 5:17
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.–Gal. 3:28
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.–Col. 3:3
My husband just took a trip to Houston to help with disaster relief. There were 6 guys in a van for 15 hours one way. It’s a long time to be that close to one another, a long time to be in one vehicle. No exit or escape. And we, you and I, we are IN JESUS.
In HIM we live and move and have our being.–Acts 17:28
We want to experience the abundant life that Christ came to give. It’s like going to Houston required getting in the van. To have life, the believer must grasp that it exists only in CHRIST.
So, we’re all about that, right? I love being a new creature IN CHRIST.
But here is the rub.
I’m not alone IN HIM. I am not a lone ranger–just me and Jesus loving this new life. I exist IN HIM along with all the other believers from all over the globe.
The believers in my local congregation? They’re in there.
The believers from the other churches in my area? They are in there too.
The believers I fell in love with in Haiti? In Jesus.
The believers I don’t like? Yep, jostling around right beside me in Christ.
The believers who don’t like me? Can’t escape me. We’re together in Christ.
This merging of identities called the mystical union is the miraculous rebirth of those from different places and spaces and colors and perspectives and ideas into a single kingdom where all men and women are born on equal footing and equally loved. In Christ.
It’s a kingdom no human government will ever be able to legislate into existence.
It’s a kingdom no human will ever accomplish, and yet it includes any human willing to die to an old way and live IN CHRIST. When lived out according to biblical instruction, it is the answer to divided nations, to a war-weary refugee crisis, to all the lives mattering movements, and to hunger and thirst.
When we fully fathom and allow this thought–that all believers are together IN CHRIST–to form, we begin to operate in a different way.
We begin to see the need for flossing.
Because there’s no separating portions of the body. I once read a book called, “How to Quit Church Without Quitting God.” Fascinating read. Tragic misunderstanding.
Believers can’t quit the church–it’s a living, breathing organism whose head is Christ.
We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.–Eph. 4:15
If we quit the church, we must understand, we’ve quit Christ and ourselves because we ARE the church and the church ONLY EXISTS in Christ.
The church–as we know it–is a building (lots of them in fact), a structure organized by human hands and minds. However, THE CHURCH? THE CHURCH is a body, not multiple bodies, and it includes Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, blacks, whites, people who believe differently about doctrine and politics, and most of all, it includes sinful, needy humans. Just like you. Just like me.
From whom (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.–Eph. 4:16
And so here we are . . . us Christians . . . with one body in which we’ve all been stuffed like hay in a scarecrow. And God himself placed us, uniquely, perfectly, for the purpose of His fame and our growth.
And you, me, and all the rest?
We aren’t separate congregations competing for members. We are congregations connected in Christ seeking heart conversion of all mankind . . . together. Not separate.
We aren’t churches divided by doctrine. We’re doctrinally diverse disciples drawn together in LOVE in Christ, determined to grow up not into dogma, but into the Divine Deity of Christ.
We aren’t offended individuals gripping grudges like addicts on heroine. We are a people who find ourselves encased in a new reality where we are renewed and reconciled, a reality where we release unforgiveness and hold tight to the healing Holy Spirit’s fruit of forgiveness.
Perhaps the real problem with the church is not that millennials are leaving or the carpet isn’t the right color. Perhaps the real problem with the church is when we become disappointed and disillusioned, and in turn begin mass exodus, we are in effect dismembering the very body to which we belong. We dismember ourselves and wonder why we are bleeding. We’ve forgotten our existence is in Christ.
Christ knew we would have a hard time remaining in the body and gave some extensive instructions about how we should treat one another. In other words, He gave us body-care instructions . . . little flossing reminders. Because, it is by this–how we treat one another–and this alone, that the world will know we are true disciples of Christ.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.–John 13:34,35
Perhaps we’ve forgotten this fact: Body care is critical. Scripture speaks on this around 60 times in the “One Another” passages.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.–Romans 12:10
Bear with each other.
Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.–Colossians 3:13
Admonish one another.–Colossians 3:16
Be kind and compassionate to one another.–Eph. 4:32
Make your love increase and overflow for each other.–I Thessalonians 3:12
Love each other.–I Thessalonians 4:9
I cannot accomplish the “One Another” passages if I am not in relationship with my fellow believers. I’m left wondering if we could grasp this grouped together existence where we are no longer identified by blood type O or A or B but by the blood of Jesus Christ that replaced our old DNA with the Divine, if we could grasp this grouping, perhaps the world would be willing to grasp Christ.
Because if we can truly love one another–the way Christ loves us–wouldn’t that be the irresistible food for which every soul hungers? Authentic Christianity will involve relationships with all believers, and anything less is the generic version. It may cost less, and be easier to obtain, but in the end, it’s not the original.
Flossing isn’t convenient. It’s not even pleasant. It is work.
Living IN CHRIST in committed community with other believers–it can also be work. It can be unpleasant. It can be downright devastating at times, but it is also our reality–like it or not. It is good for us. When we surrender to it, it is refining, restorative, and reflective of God’s love.
It prevents lost people from further rejecting Christ because they see genuine love.
It prevents me from reverting back to old ways and contributes to my transformation.
It prevents me from living dead in my sins and equips me for new life.
Only in this type of community, where I accept and embrace all the believers on the planet, will I grow up into the head who is Christ. It’s a miraculous method of growing. It doesn’t require a new Bible study, a new app, another conference, or a high-tech worship service. It requires me committing to remain in the body. It requires me committing to do my part. It requires me recognizing that my spiritual gifts are not to be consumed on myself but to be shared with the body. It requires me laying down my desire to have things my way and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.–Eph. 5:21. It requires me determining to care–truly care–for all of the body. The body in my personal local congregation, the body no longer attending any congregation, the body in Haiti, the body in Puerto Rico, the body in Houston, the body in Indonesia. A well-cared for body is a body that understands it is no longer its own, it has been bought with a price, and is a temple of the very presence of God. It carries Christ’s presence, the Sacred Solution to a spiritually starving mankind, wherever it travels. Every part matters in this body. No part can be discarded, rejected, cast off, or walk off voluntarily because it is joined by the unbreakable DNA of the Living God.
So, perhaps we need a text message, you and I? A little reminder?
Don’t forget to floss.