This article is inspired by a chapter from Yancey P, Brand P. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1987. The authors expand on the New Testament analogy of the Body of Christ, linking it to the human body.
As a member of the body of Christ, one question we face is where to find guidance in our daily lives. What is true guidance? What governs how we decide to act and think?
Dr Brand uses the analogy of neurons, which can either behave individually or work synchronously to perform a task, whilst still remaining under the influence of the brain. Thus there is freedom for the neuron to act depending on what stimulus information it receives. This aptly lends itself to describing the Body of Christ. Being a member of the Body we have accepted Christ as our head, but maintain the potential to be fully independent; a freedom which is regarded highly by God.
However, the analogy deepens. The nervous system works as a hierarchy. So if we are one of the millions of neurons, where do we take our orders from? What is pleasing to our Head? Dr Brand suggests that we should ground ourselves in the Bible and prayer, so that in time living in line with his will does not constantly have to be a conscious decision, but develops into a reflex. This means that the aspects of Christian life we find most challenging, such as evangelism and living in purity, slowly but surely are woven into our daily walk with God. However, this process requires patience on our part. If I analysed my life from day to day I probably would not see much of a change. It is only when I chart back to when I first became a Christian that I can see how much God has impacted my life.
That does not mean that God cannot issue his calling on you directly through his Spirit. Dr Brand had such an experience himself in India after his medical finals. As a budding orthopaedic surgeon, he visited a leprosy colony, where he saw how the disease ravaged the hands of sufferers. He realised then that the gifts he had been given in treating hands could make a difference here. He had found his calling.
Dr Brand also brings into question our particular roles in the church. Having a gift for a certain task is great, but it is not all that God asks for. He demands loyalty more than ability. Returning to the analogy, there are many different neurons, adept at whatever individual function they provide. However, each neuron's particular role only matters if they all follow a basic requisite, which is obedience to the brain.
If you observe any living system, guidance comes from the head and as Christians we are no exception. If we are truly members of the Body of Christ, then as Paul remarks we should be in synchrony with God's 'good, pleasing and perfect will' (Rom 12:2).