On faith: Body building
By: Susan Berge, Pastor, Knife River Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
One of the great blessings of continually reading Scripture is that particular verses or stories speak differently to us at different times of our lives. This means that those who are older among us can draw upon many layers of meaning from their experiences with a given Scripture. I recently came upon these verses from Ephesians and I discovered another aspect of their meaning within current circumstances. The verses read: “The gifts God gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith….” I’ve always appreciated these verses, but I found a new layer of meaning as I considered them within the context of living through an election season.
Election season is always a challenging time. Sometimes it seems to bring out the worst in us! We can become easily impassioned, inflamed, or even contentious and it seems that the political sphere takes on a negative, hostile tone, where opponents vilify or misrepresent one another. This is true certainly on a national level, but this negative spirit can also flow all the way down to a local level, to folks like you and me. These verses from Ephesians speak about “building up the body” and that image came alive for me in a new way at this time when so many voices around us seem to be doing exactly the opposite-- stirring up strife, encouraging rancor, breaking down community rather than building it up.
The image of “building up the body” brings to mind a story told to my husband. He had a friend who was a competitive body builder. This friend, like most body builders, was strong, muscular, and fit. But, unlike most body builders, he was also small in stature—at around 4 and ½ feet tall. Once, when my husband and his friend were eating at a restaurant in the Twin Cities many years ago, who should come through the door but Hulk Hogan! At 6 foot, 7 inches, and 302 pounds, the famed body builder/actor towered over my husband’s friend, whom he knew from working out at the same gym. My husband was struck by the friendship between these two men, as well as their common bond in body building, when they also were so remarkably different in some ways. It’s an excellent image for these verses from Ephesians, which encourage body building---building up the body---as one of our callings as people of faith.
Hulk Hogan and my husband’s friend, though having some very different circumstances, both brought enthusiasm and energy to their body building. We, too, as people of faith, are given different gifts and come out of very diverse circumstances. Yet, we also bring enthusiasm and energy to our mutual task of body building-- to build up the body of Christ and to act for the good of our community. Whether we be large or small; gifted in preaching or evangelizing or wood-working or quilting; whether we are fortunate in our financial or occupational circumstances or are barely making a go of things; we are called to come together in building up the body of Christ and serving the common good. It is especially important for us to honor and live out this calling when the world around us lives differently!
Susan Berge is Pastor at Knife River Lutheran Church. She enjoys exercise, but is NOT a body builder!