A single brain cell can capture part of a memory, according to a recent study by the University of Texas Southwestern. Many cells functioning together retain a full picture of events and tasks and stave off neurological damage like Alzheimer’s. Looking at the study’s data, a UK scientist concluded, "If you've got no short term memory, you've got no chance of long-term memories." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7846531.stm
With the church likened to the Body of Christ, scripture affirms the importance of each cell. Paul warns, “Don’t say you’re not important because you’re not an eye or a hand or a foot – no one can say to the others, I don’t need you. Or you don’t need me. Each member is vital, and everyone has their own job to do.” (my loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
My concern is that many of us may not be fully functioning. We play hand for a while. Then we try being the foot, or the eye, or the colon – digesting bits of incoming food. When we get tired, bored, or worn out, we visit another congregation where we reinvent ourselves. Many of us become the sitting part of the body. Of course, padding is important, and fat has its function. And a whole contingent of cells transfer out entirely, never reconnecting to the Body.
Playing the tourist or jumping ship when the going gets tough means short-term memory of what God does in and through us doesn’t get shared within a community. Our contribution drifts away, never to become part of a long-term heritage of faith. Pastors can't get to know the congregation. Preachers communicate to a revolving door audience which is eager for fads rather than solid food. Our children get a year here or there of Bible stories or songs. And worse yet, parents get frustrated and stay home from church during the critical formative years of our children. The kids leave for college without learning the value of commitment to a local church. The meta-narrative (or big story) of God’s relationship with us becomes twisted rather than holistic. Without community interaction and accountability to those who really know us, our faith remains weak and incomplete.
Be an active cell. Share your memory and your gifts where God has put you. And if he moves you to a sister congregation through work or calling, gather both long- and short-term cell members around you to give you the whole picture. God at work among us. Where every cell matters.
*(Solomon) “Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!" 1 Chronicles 29:12–13 NLT
*(Jesus) "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34 NIV
*The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 NIV