What happens when the hand says to the body, I don’t need you, or when the head says to the foot, I don’t need you?
On December 26, 1919, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000. The sum was the most paid for any ball player in history. It looked like a sweet deal for the Red Sox, but it was a bad trade. With Babe Ruth the Red Sox had won three titles in five years. After the trade it would be 86 years before they would hoist another World Series banner.
On the other hand, the trade made the Yankees immediate contenders, and by 1923 they were celebrating their first World Series title. Ruth had a personality larger than life. He personified the Roaring 20s. He was a symbol of both success and excess. He was an amazing ball player, but his love for late nights made him hard to manage. He may have been the face of the New York Yankees, but it was his teammate Lou Gehrig—the Iron Horse—who set the pace for the franchise. One reporter called him a prize locomotive pulling the Yankees over the grade. While Babe Ruth hit home run after home run, it was said that the pennant was won or lost on the bat of Lou Gehrig.
The Yankees won four titles with Ruth in the lineup, but by 1935 they had missed the playoffs three years in a row. It was clear to management that something had to change, and on February 25, 1935, Babe Ruth was traded. The trade made room for Joe DiMaggio—the new face of the franchise. Behind the bat of Joltin’ Joe, and on the back of Lou Gehrig, the Yankees won the World Series in 1936, 1937, and again in 1938.
In 1939, the Yankees started strong, but something was off. After a series in Washington, one reporter wrote, “I think there is something physically wrong with Lou.” That same year, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy became nervous when he was golfing with Lou and noticed that he was dragging his feet. Something was indeed off, and eight games into the season, Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, pulled himself from the Yankee line-up. He had played in 2,130 consecutive games, he had appeared in seven All-Star Games, he had won six World Series titles, he had hit 493 home runs, he had a career batting average of .340. He was “the man,” but what he hadn’t told anyone was that he was losing strength in his hands and in his feet—within two years Lou Gehrig would be dead.
What happens when the hand says to the body, I don’t need you, or the head says to the foot, I don’t need you? Eventually you die.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
The Bible refers to the Church as the Body of Christ—the hands, feet, eyes, ears of Jesus. In writing about its members, the Apostle Paul says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
Notice that not one of the gifts is for the individual, but all are for the Body. So often, we take the gifts God has given us, and we use them for ourselves. Teachers teach, but they do not teach Christ. Givers give, but not for the Lord. Leaders lead, but not in the Kingdom. It is as if the hand is saying to the body, or the head is saying to the foot, I don’t need you—and that is a path that leads only to death.
You, however, were not created for death, but for life—and to live it abundantly. Two thousand years ago, our God traded his One and only Son Jesus Christ for you-—that you might know him and glorify him. The Bible tells us that we are no longer our own, but that we belong to God, and that each of us has been uniquely gifted to bring him glory. That is the primary function of the Church here on earth. That is your calling.
You see, when we use our gifts to bring glory to God—when we prophesy for God, when we serve for God, teach for God, encourage for God, give for God, show mercy for God… people see Christ.
Do you desire to live a life of meaning; do you desire to live a life of purpose… how about that? When you use your gift to the glory of God—when you become what you were created to be in the Body of Christ… people see Christ, and he is the path unto salvation.
Do not neglect your call any longer. You were bought at a price—the highest price ever paid for any individual, and you were created for a purpose—to show the world its Savior.
Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.