Diversity in the Body

Now… if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. – 1 Corinthians 12:15-20

As a grassroots organizer within the Occupy movement, it is easy for me to get carried away. There is an intensity in my sense of calling to this work, and a part of me insists that everyone should be involved. And there is some truth in this. I do believe that we are all called to the struggle for greater love, truth and justice in our society. We all have a responsibility to hear and respond to the Spirit’s movement in our hearts, however we are directed. But responding faithfully looks different for some than for others.

For my part, I have felt drawn into the kind of grassroots organizing that we do in Occupy Churchand Occupy Our Homes DC. Rather than primarily seeking policy changes, or reform within the financial sector, I feel called to pursue direct engagement with families and communities. I feel that I can be most faithful by helping to develop grassroots networks that empower ordinary people to have a voice in the way local communities are impacted by the big banks, big government, and the interests of the wealthiest 1%.

But there is more than one way to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. This grassroots action that I have been called to is important, but there are other, complimentary ways that we are engaging simultaneously. We need the folks who are laboring tireless for policy reforms to curb the abuses of the financial sector. We need the courage of those who are working within multi-national corporations and big banks, to take the risk of advocating for more just and sustainable policies within their organizations. We need lawmakers who are responsive to the needs of their human constituents – not only the demands of their corporate creditors. There are many ways that we are working for justice, and each of us is called to be faithful in our particular role.

The work that I and other grassroots organizers are doing fit into a larger picture. Our efforts are crucial, but we cannot succeed alone. Rather than insisting that everyone engage in the same way as me, I must learn to cooperate with those who are seeking to be faithful in a variety of different contexts and callings. If we hope to see real change in our society, we will need the cooperation from all our parts. We cannot heal the body by hacking off limbs. We need restoration, not amputation.

I seek to stay open to all those who are working for a more loving and just society, even when their forms of engagement look very different from my own. Rather than demanding that others engage in the same way that I am called to, I will honor the varied roles and responsibilities that have been given to different individuals and communities. I will be the feet. Will you be the eyes? The ears? The mouth? The hands?