Consider the lowly bee as an example of shared ministry. The queen bee at the heart of a busy hive can produce her weight in eggs each day. She appears to be all-important in the colony's life, but she is just one part of a large organization with 10,000 cells for honey bees and 12,000 for larvae! Many other ministries beside hers help the hive survive and flourish, including guard bees hovering at the entrance to fight off enemies and scent fanner bees to point the way for those flying back to the hive with pollen. Scout bees hunt out new sources of food. Other worker bees collect and bring in water, or repair broken-down cells. Undertaker bees carry out dead insects, while others rapidly beat their wings to air-condition the hive when it gets overly hot. Every class of bee is essential, and the colony could probably not survive without any one of them. This beautiful example from nature shows what shared ministry in the Body of Christ, the church, should be.✞
One can also compare Christian body relationships to flying geese who support and aid each other. They extend their range by flying in a "V" formation. Geese slipstream each other, and this continues their range by seventy percent. Dr. Steven Portugal told the journal "Nature," "The distinctive V-formation of the bird flocks has long intrigued researchers." The Daily Express reports, "Birds fly in a V-formation to make the whole flock more aerodynamic, British researchers revealed. A team from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, found the birds matched the wing beats of others to help reduce drag and stayed in unison to make the flight as easy as possible." When the lead bird tired from the wind's buffeting, it dropped back, and another replaced it. In mist or clouds, they honked to locate one another. By flying together, rather than singly, they covered much greater distances. Similarly, members of the Household Body need to support each other in the Christian body. Two killer whales amazingly swim alongside another that has become sick and cradle it on their backs so it can breathe the air at the surface until it recovers. ✞
The "Minneapolis Star and Tribune" ran an article on how the body of a conditioned runner reacts in a long-distance race. "When the body begins to overheat, sweat glands release liquid to cool it. When it starts to run low on sugar, which is fuel for the muscles, a hormone from the pancreas tells the liver to release stored sugar into the bloodstream. As the legs need more oxygen, the brain signals the heart to beat faster. Blood flow to the internal organs and upper body is shut down by 80% so that more blood gets to the legs and the heart. Deep breathing brings in more air. Blood vessels in the legs dilate 400% to accommodate the increased flow of blood. All of this enables a person to run long distances." Christian body relationships are likewise incredibly complex when orchestrated by Christ, who is the head.✞
In the Body of Christ, it is Jesus who has control like a child flying a kite. This simple act illustrates how much we need one another.
"Who flies the kite? 'I said the boy; it is my joy; I fly the kite.'"
"Who flies the kite? 'I said the wind; it is my whim; I fly the kite.'"
"Who flies the kite? 'I said the tail I make it sail; I fly the kite.'"
"Who flies the kite? All are wrong; all are right; All fly the kite." "Who flies the kite in your life?"
Similarly, there are no irreplaceable persons, for we all have a part in sustaining the Household Body. Dr. Paul Brand (1914-2003 AD) was a famous Christian medical missionary with lepers for many years in India. He was a pioneer in developing tendon transfer techniques for use in the hands of those with leprosy. He wrote, "In our society, a janitor has little status because he is so replaceable. Thus, we pay the janitor less and tend to look down upon him. But the body's division of labor is not based on status; status is, in fact, immaterial to the task people perform. The body's janitors are indispensable."✞
Developing Christian friendships is very important for the Christian in the incredibly complex Mystical Body of Christ. Several members of the Mystical Body often combine their efforts to help another in times of need. A new Christian, who is an alcoholic, stumbles into a drinking binge. When a church friend notices her absence, a house visit, and gentle counseling follow. A third Christian comes forward to pay the rent. The prodigal eventually returns to her proper place in the Mystical Body. Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12.26, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." Those outside the Christian faith often see God himself in this kind of small service of developing friendships.✞
In the Body of Christ, developing Christian friendships strengthen one's faith. While developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, good friends can improve your mood, help you to reach your goals, reduce your stress and depression. They can support you through tough times, encourage you as you age, boost your self-worth. They can help you focus on others, not yourself, and pay attention to what is going on. So, developing Christian relationships has long term beneficial effects. During the Vietnam Conflict, the Vietcong tried to break the spirit of American prisoners of war. Even under torture, it was not their patriotism or conviction that sustained them as much as their friendships with other soldiers in their unit. Solitary confinement away from their comrades and disrupted friendships dragged down their fighting spirit more than physical hardship or even torture.✞
In the Body of Christ, body ministries combine like the separate limbs and organs in the human body to be active and to grow. Ministries combine to fulfill particular roles, like the organs and limbs that work together in a human body. Though each part is unique, all body ministries combine to act as one single person. Saint Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12.12, "The body is a unit, though it comprises many parts, and though its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ."✞
Members of the Household Body siphon their strength not only from Christ but also from one another. Like a bicycle wheel, the Mystical Body is most effective when its spokes are attached to the Jesus hub at the center, and their Christian friends at the rim. The very first example of body ministries was the group of twelve disciples gathered together by Jesus. Lewis Garnsworthy, when Bishop of Toronto, asked his clergy to follow our Lord's example and invite twelve lay people into shared leadership for mutual support and encouragement. In reality, many body ministries need to combine to make the church more effective.✞