If the church is a body where every part is necessary, where the goal is each part serving, supporting, growing and building one another up, it’s no wonder that someone leaving our church feels like losing a part of ourselves. I’m told that physical amputation is painful, I haven’t experienced it, but I can tell you that spiritual amputation is equally painful. When someone leaves our church it ought to feel like the loss of a vital part of our body because it is. It affects each and every other part of the body, the pain isn’t just located at the site of amputation but radiates out to each nerve ending.
In our individualised culture and society I wonder if we think about that enough. In our society ‘I’ matters. The ‘I’ may not just be me, it may be me and mine. But the ‘I’ is the primary consideration. And here’s the danger there is no ‘I’ in church. The church is a body and there is no-one in the church who is the spiritual equivalent of the appendix. No-one who won’t be missed or is readily replaceable or unnecessary. But in the ‘I’ world we only think of the impact of our actions on us and ours. But the Bible calls us to have a bigger vision, we are part of a body, our actions impact others. Our loss will be felt, it will impact others.
That is not saying we should never leave a church. I think the Bible would provide us with some valid reasons for doing so but that is a post for another day, but I think they are relatively few and far between. I don’t want to get too enmeshed in those now.
We love the body image of the church when it suits us, yet how quickly we seem to forget it when it doesn’t suit.