We had all just gotten out of the pool and were in no rush to get back to the cabin to clean up before dinner. The party after that night was back in the pool so it wouldn’t make any sense to bathe in between.
So there we were just chilling in a cabana by the pool, enjoying each others company by the late-afternoon Missouri sun. Perched on the wood railing, I was in no hurry to interrupt the colorful banter of our campers and volunteers. I was quite content to watch all of their unique personalities interact and flourish; joking casually about the other camp activities of the day, talk about who’s wheel chair could go the fastest, who would ask who to the dance on the fourth night.
My mind drifted and I remembered that we had skipped our daily devotional from that morning. I nudged my co-counselor Caleb and asked if he wanted to do an impromptu lesson. He agreed and I reached for my Bible.
While he explained the theme for the week “Wanted” I thumbed for the passage to support it:
18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
I read most of 1 corinthians 12 to them and then asked them to identify themselves with a part of the body based on their individual interests and talents.
Tony, a camper who I knew from last year, lifted his head as far as his crouched spine would allow him, and said he would be the hands because he liked to write. Tim said he’d like to be the mouth because he’s always talking and making people laugh. Draven, who’s form of cerebral palsy inhibits his speech, just looked at us and shrugged.
Then, we asked our volunteers to look at each camper and tell them where they saw them fitting into the body of Christ. They leapt at the opportunity. No camper left that circle feeling unloved, but totally affirmed and comforted by the life-giving words of their peers.
When people ask me for highlights of my summer, I often give them some version of this moment. For me, it is a crucial symptom of health in the body of Christ and snapshot of what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12:
23And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
For our campers who have been told “You can’t” all their lives, heard the words “I believe in you” from their volunteers.
They heard and saw that they are truly wanted by a God of love who designed them for a purpose, wonderfully and perfectly.
Those who were regarded as “less honorable” by the world, treated as inferior and cast aside, were embraced with the loving arms of Christ through his Body.
Thanks for allowing me a glimpse into unity and harmony in Your body. Teach me to embrace my part where You would have me minister today, to the other parts uniquely around me. As You wanted.