Judges 19 tells the story of a woman who dies after being gang-raped. Her grief-stricken husband cuts up her body and sends a piece to Israel’s 12 tribes (Judges 19:29). Outraged, the tribes assemble “as one body” to deal with the crime (Judges 20:1, HCSB).
The woman’s dismemberment evokes the Last Supper and the cross. Just as her body was parceled out to 12 tribes, Jesus gave broken bread to 12 disciples and said, “This is my body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). Paul says we who eat of this one bread become one body, just as Israel became one through their share in the woman’s body (1 Cor. 10:17).
David is credited with uniting Israel’s tribes into a kingdom (1 Chron. 12:38). He succeeded because a nameless woman was killed generations before. Her death shocked the Israelites out of their stupor; it brought them into communion with the Lord and each other. This is where Israel’s unification began. David reaped that for which he didn’t labor (John 4:38).
In the body of Christ, some ministries are publicly successful. God blesses them with a lot of fruit. Others give out their whole lives with little recognition or apparent results. We often credit public success to the spiritual stature of the minister. We also tend to view those with hidden ministries as less spiritual or anointed. But this is a self-focused perspective.
Behind every “David” is someone we’ll never hear about. The inspired preacher is backed by someone praying in secret. Perhaps the revival in one part of the world is fueled by the blood of martyrs in another. Those that brightly bloom for all to see are supported by roots underground.
If we focus on Christ’s members and their relative success we will remain blind to the One New Man (Eph. 2:15). Instead of judging by appearances we need to see Christ’s death and resurrection manifesting in His body. Christ’s death working in one part of the body will cause life to work in another part (2 Cor. 4:12). The success of individual members belongs to the whole body. The suffering of individual members is shared by the whole body (1 Cor. 12:26). No one can take credit, and no one should feel left out. Whether knowing Christ in the power of His resurrection or fellowshipping in His sufferings, we are part of a synergy that builds the body of Christ in love (Php. 3:10; Eph. 4:16).
(If you’d like to read more about Judges 19, check out my booklet, “Communion and the Concubine“)