“Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.”
1 Cor. 13:12b
“For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body- so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
1 Cor 12:12-13
What We All Desire
What do we long for? What do we most deeply desire? Two needs are fundamental to every human being, regardless of how much he or she tries to repress them: first, he longs to be recognized, to be known. Second, she desires to belong, to be a part of something bigger. Look around. What do you see? We live in an age of what one philosopher has called “expressive individualism.”1 See Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, (213, 299, 473-495) Lost men and women search within themselves, probing their deepest feelings, their personal “psychology,” reliving their past lives hoping to find some thread, something to say that matters. They express what they find there through their bodies to a culture in which they live. “Look at me!” each cries out. But what one really means to say is “Know me!” Know who I am, and value me. Please, know me.
However, we struggle. The fact is there is something quite unlovable about each of us that others really don’t want to know about or deal with. Something is wrong in our inner most self. It is not attractive and could cause others to draw back. Yes, maybe I was “born this way,” but being “born that way” does not mean being born good. So man’s expression of his innermost self is often met with rejection, and, in some sense, rightly so. For it is also written that man’s heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. In fact, how can man even know it, his own heart? He is an egoist— a self-centered creature whose desire for genuine love is as much a desire for others to worship him as it is to care about him. The honest among us know that we would take true love and we would abuse it.
Yet we must be part of a group, a community that knows us. As a social creature, man cannot help but look for a family, a tribe, in which he can be the relational being he was designed to be. He needs people. He cannot be the “self-made man,” as much as he might talk big about being a “trend setter” or an “original.” True each is unique, but no one is really all that different from their group or community, as many today rightly point out. So, while we fight to retain our individuality, lest we become “the Borg,” still we cannot help but attach to the group, any group. We need to be together “as one.”
What do we find then? All around we see ourselves searching desperately; screaming and scraping and kicking and crawling —wanting to be recognized as an individual, a unique person worthy of acknowledgement, yet also to fit into this group or that: the blacks, the whites, the LGBTQ, the Democrats, the Republicans, the artists, the engineers– whoever, whatever. But, where does the real answer to this problem lie? Where can we find our true identity as well as our genuine community of love?
The Body of Christ Fulfills Us
It is in Christ alone. For only by your Creator can you be fully known, and only in His Body do you truly belong. No one can ever know you like the God who made your very nature. And to no community other than to His community can you ever fully belong, for His is a community that stretches back to the beginning of time and that will exist forever. In fact, it is written that your brothers and sisters in Christ are waiting for you, waiting so that they may be complete and receive the promises made to them:
“All these [of the faithful] were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.”Hebrews 11:39-40
Men and women of the past are waiting for you to join them. They still live, they are not dead. You do not know them (not yet), but they know you. They are your family, if you should choose to join them. God is calling you to this family, to this gathering of “every tribe, tongue and nation.” Will you heed the call and come home?
- 1See Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, (213, 299, 473-495)