I’m sure you’ve all heard this exclamation uttered in indignation by someone who was offended by the behavior of someone they expected to perform in a better manner … “The NERVE of some people!”
Well, I’d like to make today’s post a tribute to the nerve cells in the Body of Christ, as we continue this series of posts based on the book “In His Image” by Dr. Paul Brand. If you could be any type of cell in the Body of Christ, what type of cell would YOU be? If you consider yourself a “prayer warrior” in His Body, you might just be a nerve cell.
Nerve Cells! Did you know that the longest single cell in the human body is about 4 feet long? It’s a nerve cell that runs up the entire length of the leg from the big toe, and it’s as thin as a human hair. When there’s a need in any of the cells down there in the foot, that nerve sends an instant message about what’s needed to the brain via other spinal nerves. In fact, when there is pain, or a need anywhere in the Body, it is the nerves that transmit impulses to let the brain know.
Just a quick look at Ephesians 1:22 and Colossians 1:18 should serve to inform us Who it is who serves as Head of the Body — “the brains of the outfit” so to speak — that directs all of the functions of the Body, voluntary or involuntary. Christ is all the brain the Body needs! None of us have a “better idea” how to run the Body. The job “brain cell” is not open in His Body. Some may look at all of the division and dysfunction in today’s church and think “the Head” doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in the Body. On the contrary, He knows ALL – and is using the suffering caused in the Body by such things to evaluate every cell.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Col. 1:18)
What happens with you and I when we receive new prayer requests each week? When we receive an emergency prayer request, as we often do, don’t we immediately send a message to the brain in the Body of Christ? “Our heavenly Father,” we pray, “please send your healing power from the Head of all things to the church to our brother or sister who is in trouble.”
How good a job am I doing as a nerve cell in the Body of Christ? The Christ of compassion hears our heartfelt emotionally driven prayers on the behalf of His people.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
We can also act as nerve cells on our own behalf. Let’s turn to the example of Hezekiah in and look at what moved God to answer his emotive prayer.
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.” (Is. 38:1-5)
For one more example, let’s also look at the book of Daniel.
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. (Dan. 9:3-7)
It’s evident from the wording here that Daniel viewed himself as a small part of a larger Body. Here, he was acting as a nerve cell on behalf of both his nation and his Church! The nation of Israel was in ruins — divided, dysfunctional, in captivity in Babylon, failed by its leaders — and Daniel was grieved because of that. Look at the emotion he puts into this prayer.
Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision (Dan. 9:17-23)
How’s that for an answer? Oh that we could be given the skill to fully understand what’s going on in our churches and our nation today and why both are so dysfunctional!
So, whad’ya say? Are YOU a nerve cell?
Do you see another cell or two (or three) in the Body that need you to send a compassionate message to the brain?
Do you see problems that are causing damage to the Body as a whole, and you feel the need to convey your alarm about that to the head?
If you’re a messenger, one who spends a lot of time in prayer, a “prayer warrior”, then you may just be a nerve cell in the Body of Christ.