Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.1 Corinthians 12:27
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.Matthew 18:20
I just got back from a ten day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. It snowed at home the entire time we were gone. Sitting here at the La Guardia Airport waiting for a plane to take me back to Eastern Ohio, I am looking out over the tarmac at snow and ice. If you could “see” cold, that’s what I’d see. I didn’t miss the January weather at all.
Throughout the two weeks, I often thought, “I wish the girls were here, they’d love to see this.” And I saw things I knew the grandkids and parents would have loved. I’m used to seeing my family at least three or four times a week, so that was very different. I missed playing music so much so that on the eighth day of the cruise, I found a piano tucked away in a closed restaurant and played for about 20 minutes. There was much that I missed despite the beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, bluest water and most relaxation I’ve had in quite some time.
However by the end of my vacation, I realized the thing I missed most was the Body of Christ. I’m accustomed to fellowshipping with the Body nearly daily. You see, even my biological family are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Plus with worship twice a week, small groups at least once a week, social network interaction and phone calls and texts, I’ve gotten used to feeling the Spirit of God in every fiber of the fabric of my day. In fact, the bulk of our past vacations have been scheduled around Christian conferences, concerts and seminars.
As we watched the bluest ocean we’ve ever seen along with the perfect weather with nearly no humidity, we wondered if those who live there have grown complacent about the beauty and tranquility that God has given them. It’s easy to take for granted the wonderful things in our lives when we have access to them on a daily basis. Our husbands and wives, children, parents, friends . . . it’s easy to assume they’ll always be around, and this week I’ve discovered, I take the Body of Christ for granted.
Early in the cruise we asked if there would be worship on Sunday. But we must have been among the only folks who asked because there was none. I couldn’t even tell if there were others on board who might have been part of my kingdom family. I heard people using language that seemed a bit offensive and saw a lot of people drinking. We chatted with folks about where they were from and there were folks who said, “Thank God” about one thing or another, however, the phrase seemed more of a cliché than a prayer. And despite the two days Steve wore t-shirts with church names listed on the back, we weren’t able to identify one person as a follower of Christ. I began to envy the Jewish families on board (who, by the way, did enjoy a worship experience on Friday evening). At least the men’s yarmulkes helped them find one another.
But what I noticed most in being in my Christian vacuum for that long was the lack of Spirit I felt. I couldn’t help but find Christ in the starfish I held and the jelly fish I saw. The hand of God was all over the frigate birds and the iguanas. The coral, the flying fish, the islands untouched by humans all gave evidence to my Creator, my Father. The wonder and majesty of the I Am were so obvious I wondered how anyone on board kept from worshipping spontaneously. Yet, in spite of all the beauty, there was something missing, and the longer I was there, the more I realized, it was the power of the Spirit I had grown accustomed to when I’m with the Body of Christ.
I read my Bible every day and continually thanked the Almighty for the blessing of this experience. I felt so loved by my Father as I spent time just relaxing and basking in His creation. But I know that if there had been a significant number of others there with us praising Christ, even without my knowledge, His Spirit would have been overwhelming. I’ve been in the presence of God’s creation before WITH the Body and the difference is noticeable. The next time I cruise, I may volunteer to organize a worship service. Who knows how many others I may have uncovered if we’d had an opportunity to gather. I believe Jesus meant it when He said, “when two or three are gathered in my name.” Never again will I underestimate the power and the Spirit that can be found when the Body of Christ gathers.