Essential

During the current worldwide coronavirus crisis and associated business shutdowns due to shelter-in-place orders, the distinction has been made between “essential” and “non-essential” workers, for very practical and good reasons. Essential workers are those who are needed to remain physically on-site at their places of employment, those being businesses or institutions that are providing essential services that the community needs on a daily, or at least regular, ongoing basis. Non-essential workers are those whose  work is by no means or measure unimportant, but who are employed by businesses that governments have decided that the community and economy are temporarily able to go without, or who can allow their employees to work remotely and still perform at least the majority, if not all, of their normal work and functions. Of course, many, or perhaps even most, businesses employ both essential and non-essential workers. Generally speaking, in such cases, these businesses’ essential workers must perform some of their work at a specific physical location outside of their homes, while their non-essential workers are laid off, furloughed, or allowed to work remotely from their homes, at least for a majority of the time.

In the Body of Christ, there is no such thing as a “non-essential” worker or member. Each and every worker and member (and every member is also a worker) is “essential” and indispensable to the effective health and functioning of the whole. In 1 Corinthians 12:17-20 (NIV), Paul explains: “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 placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” It’s not any of our places or rights as an individual member to decide that ourselves or any other member is “non-essential”. Just as in any modern company of any significant size, there must be “behind-the-scenes” or “back-end” functions and/or teams, so, too, those that have a less prominent or visible place or function in the Body of Christ are no less vital to its success. For the last several weeks, basically contemporaneous with the shelter-in-place order, a large business entity with which I am familiar has had to take its computer network down to resolve some security issues. Can you imagine what would happen if this agency had no Information Technology team? This team has played a vital role in getting the agency back up to speed, but the team members are largely “unknown” and “invisible” to the members of the community whom the agency serves. Or how about the people who get rid of the garbage and waste at any company? Can you imagine that company trying to function without them? Just ask the citizens of New York City who had to live through the City’s 9-day garbage strike by its sanitation workers in 1968. The quality of life of most or all of the people in the entire city was significantly adversely affected during that period.

As recorded in 1 Samuel 30:24, David said: “‘The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.’” (NIV) I have heard this verse applied to evangelistic or ministry teams doing an outreach event, publicly facing the community, and those who privately cloistered themselves away in a prayer room in order to intercede for the protection, anointing, and efficacy of their brothers and sisters “on the front lines,” and the impact and success of the outreach event. Both teams and functions are needed equally, and both will be honored and rewarded equally by their Lord and Master.

Such mutual interdependence within the Body of Christ innately and naturally fosters humility, mutual appreciation, and an end to competition within the Body. Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26: “...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.” (NIV) The greater the value and importance we place upon all members of the Body, the more relaxed and secure we can be in the realization that we, too, each share in that equal value and importance. And when we are set free from worrying about ourselves, then we can fully focus our thoughts, will, and energies on serving God and others, and be maximally effective together in the fruit-bearing work of the Kingdom of God.  
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