February 2, 2016

Christ Has No Hands but Ours

A blessing about being home schooled was all the beautiful books I read for school. The thing I miss most right now are those books. Now that I am done with my core college history, government and English classes I hardly get exposed to new books.

In school, I was introduced to my current favorite book. It was a book that accompanied my high school anatomy curriculum. I wanted to prepare for all the anatomy that nursing requires so I took an extra year of science to do so. The curriculum I use often pairs Christian books with all types of courses, this was no different. I got a book called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey. 

Dr. Paul Brand is one of the most fascinating, exemplary and God loving man I've heard of. He began working as a doctor for patients with leprosy while it still had a stigma attached to it here in America. Then he went on to move his study to India. In the fascinating studies he writes about doing in the book, from looking at live blood cells in a sedated albino bat's wing to performing stressful operations in inadequate situations in India, to being one of the first to realize leprosy caused loss of limbs because it damaged nerve endings. His love for his patients is shown in every story and it is an important read for any Christian wanting to go into the medical field.

The best part about him though was the deep and remarkable parallels he found between the human body and the Body of Christ. For example, how cell's represent sacrificial service or skin represents the task of showing love. I cannot do justice to all the wonderful insights the book has given me.

The part of the book that I want to share here is a little story he wrote at the end of the book about some students in Germany. After World War II there was a church that had been badly damaged. As the students began the work of rebuilding, they came across a statue of Jesus who's hands were blown off. They debated redoing the delicate task, but decided instead to make a statement. They left the hands untouched and wrote in a plaque under the statue "Christ Has No Hands but Ours."

This is the definition of the Body of Christ. To do what Christ would do if He were on earth right now. Thank goodness there is more than one Christian on earth, or else it would be too big of a task. But that is why there is the teaching of the Body having many parts. We do not have to do it all, just our part.

When Christ left He empowered. He gave gifts. He gave His Spirit. Each of us a specific gift. Each for a reason.

God has a task for each of us, and thank you Lord for the promise that we can be "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6), and that "the Lord will fulfill his purpose for me" (Psalm 138:8). I've always taken a lot of comfort in the verse that says, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).


But is the Church truly living the way it should? Is it acting and living like Christ would? All we can do is work on ourselves, or gently encourage those we can.

All to often we focus on the classic "would Jesus watch that movie?" While I love and teach that, I want to enlarge the teaching. I want to use the positive form and talk about what Christ's life and purpose would be while on earth. If on earth, Jesus would be teaching. He would be tending to the sick. He would be at a hospitable and showing love. He would be evangelizing. He would be mentoring. He would be exhorting. He would be showing mercy. He would be giving insight from Scripture. He would be telling creative stories to show truths about God.

Doesn't that list look a lot like spiritual gifts and talents? Can you see yourself doing one of the acts Jesus did? Can you see yourself teaching as He did? Using clever ways to make biblical truths stick in the minds of listeners? What about tending to the sick as He did? The medical field utilizes this. They use the gift of mercy to realize the need and to not overlook those who could benefit from  help. If you are a creative person, you are being like Christ because you use
creative ways to show the truths about God. Christ used stories, you use poetry, painting, dance, theater, and more. Do you simply like to build into the lives of youth? Or even simply your children? You are being like Christ building into the lives of His disciples.

Be encouraged, there is no one way to serve God. I often become discouraged looking at all the different works to be done that I am not gifted at. I need to focus on what God has called me to and excelling at that. Christ served in many ways to set an example.

Understand though, that means we need to do what we are gifted to do. Start small, build up your experience. A new Christian with the gift of evangelism can't be expected to teach like Billy Graham. But you can do something. You can begin now. Christ having no hands but ours means He's entrusting this work to you. Reap the blessing of being used by God. It is worth having a purpose in this life. And, the Body needs you.

The teaching of the Body of Christ having many parts is there for a reason. It is too easy to slip into the mindset of being a one person ministry. Jesus could be a one person ministry because He was God. We are simply the hand or the foot or the eye. An eye doesn't look much like Jesus, the collection of body parts does. From experience I know a ministry cannot be run by yourself. I taught a Bible study where I had to serve like someone having the gifts of teaching, exhortation, prophecy, mercy, hospitality and leadership. Not exactly do-able, but I tried and got burned out. While God blessed my efforts in big ways, I suffered and my ministry had to stop. Had I brought more people in to lead with me, it could still be going right now.

One last thought to close is a poem I found while researching the story of the statue of Jesus with no hands. The poem is by Annie Johnston Flint who lived 1862-1932. It goes:

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today

He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way

He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died

He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible the careless world will read,

We are the sinner’s gospel; we are the scoffer’s creed;

We are the Lord’s last message, given in word and deed;

What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?

What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is?

What if our tongue is speaking of things His lips would spurn?

How can we hope to help Him or welcome His return?


I want to clarify, God is so powerful He will accomplish His purpose in spite of us. This should not cause us to not serve, but to want to be used toward the purposes of God.  I believe it is a great blessing to be used by God to accomplish big things. He wants to use you and to bless those around you because of your willingness.