“How beautiful is the body of Christ,” sang the children’s choir, standing in perfect rows on risers in the Sunday-morning worship service. The Twila Paris anthem pictures Christ’s perfect hands and feet and heart and eyes—all sacrificed with pain deeper than we fully understand to take care of sin greater than we fully grasp. And then it reminds us that his beautiful body is still alive and active today, whenever “humble hearts give the fruit of pure lives so that others may live.”
As the melody echoed in my mind throughout the day, I remembered so many humble hearts I had encountered before I first heard the song more than a decade ago, and the pure lives that have touched mine since then.
After church we drove an hour to see a friend and her husband at a funeral home because her father had died. We lingered and visited with others from our congregation who had also gone out of their way to be there. “You should have driven the church bus,” one of them quipped to our minister who was with us.
I thought of another friend who, with her husband, has given her life in ministry overseas and in several places stateside. Two days earlier she had aborted a trip to visit her missionary kids in the South Pacific when her mother—who at 95 has also touched and served several generations—was rushed to a Cincinnati hospital. I thought of them together, daughter standing over mother in an unfamiliar bed, and I decided Twila Paris’s description is the best one. They’re beautiful.
And as I write these paragraphs, I think of the dozens of church leaders like them—vocational as well as volunteer—I’ve watched or known. They’ve lived out a commitment to Christ, a loyalty to the church, and an example of purity and faithfulness that makes them—there’s no better word—beautiful.
None of these people is perfect, of course. I could mention weaknesses and quirks and mistakes—and no more than I could list about myself. But because I am united with them in the body of Christ, the blood of Christ heals our brokenness and compensates for our failures.
How much of this could the 10-year-olds in that Sunday-morning service grasp? As I consider all the ways my life has been changed and challenged by the body of Christ, my answer is, “Very little.”
But their unified voiced joined with earnest expressions and perfect memory to touch something deep inside me that morning. And there’s only one word for the renewed commitment their words inspire: “Beautiful.”