I tweeted, “In Christ’s body, there are no vestigial organs.” One might respond by pointing out that some members of the visible church are dead, some so cancerous that they take over other body parts.

We might then say, “the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every healthy (or elect) joint supplies, according to the proper working of each healthy (or elect) part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

I prefer Paul’s version: ” every joint supplies . . . the proper working of each individual part” (Ephesians 4:16).

Are dead limbs then an illusion? Is the body of Christ impervious to infection?

Not at all: Even the dead limbs contribute to the growth of the body in love, insofar as they provide openings for the other members to revive them. Even the bacteria and viruses of the body of Christ further the growth and maturation of the body by strengthening the church’s immune system.

A pastor who deal faithfully with a rebellious thumb or a deaf ear becomes a better pastor, more courageous, more cunning, more Christlike. And so that thumb and that useless ear have their part in building the body.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart