Phantom Limb Syndrome?

June 18th, 2014
Posted By: Michael Seaman

Phantom limb syndrome is an epidemic in the local church. It’s the sensation that a body part that isn’t present and therefore isn’t properly working, is actually still there and moving appropriately in conjunction with the rest of the body. The left leg knows the right leg is missing because it has to work harder to carry the body’s weight. The right arm knows the right leg isn’t contributing because it has to employ greater effort in order to balance the body. The eyes know the right leg isn’t present because they can see the gaping void that’s left in its absence. But even though the body knows the part isn’t there, from time to time it gets teased and tricked into feeling that the missing body part has returned. Because of the phantom limb there’s often phantom pain and a reordering of how the body works in order to adapt to the newfound limb. However, soon the body realizes what it knew all along—that this was merely a dream. Unfortunately, this causes psychological, emotional, and physical damage to the body as a whole that can only be repaired by actually reattaching the limb or attaching something else to work properly in its stead.

One of the main problems with phantom limb syndrome is that the phantom limb doesn’t realize what it’s doing to the body. It still feels like it wants to be part of the body, but knows deep down that something is preventing it from working properly. This is why the concept of Body Life is so crucial to the Christian faith. Body Life is the essence of the Church. It is the life Christ came to give us. It is the life that the Trinitarian God has experienced for all eternity and the life that He is inviting us into. One of our main intentional spaces for this is our Body Life Groups where we live out the most basic form of the church as we exercise the fivefold ministry functions in order to build the body of Christ. And it is through Body Life that the body can be made whole again. It is through Body Life that a phantom limb can belong again. It is through Body Life that healing, compassion, freedom, and reconciliation can mend body parts and propel the body into its identity and destiny. I can’t state it any better than the Apostle Paul:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).

So what’s the remedy? How do we stem this epidemic? Where does this start at Trinity Life? It’s simple. We commit. We commit to building the body. We commit to each other. We commit to serve one another. We commit to support one another. We commit to be present. We commit to Trinity Life. Remember, I’m talking about the local expression of the body of Christ here. The body works properly when it knows that the parts it needs have expressed the same commitment. The simplest and most visible barometer for commitment is presence. Your place in the body of Christ, your participation in Body Life, is an expression of what God has made you for; it’s an expression of your identity and destiny in Christ. Begin living it out at Trinity Life by fully committing.