Partially, I think, it is do to the fact that when a person passes another in church they feel an obligation to ask “how are you?”. But funny how this obligation does not come with one to listen to the response. So the asker asks and continues walking. Even if the answerer wanted to say “Well my day has been rather rotten” the asker would hear no more that “well my day's been...” But the answerer is not exempt from some blame. Due to certain social cues if the answerer were to stop and angle his body in such a way as to signal a conversation the asker, at very least, would notice. These passing greetings have become a sort of expectation – and the response “I am great” is equally expected. It is a sort of stalemate. This is the application of the first part of the verse, “put off falsehood and speak truthfully”. Why must we do so? That is the second part. “For we are all members of one body”.
I am reminded of an old Swedish proverb: “Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow”. Are we not told to “weep with those who weep” and “be joyful with those who are joyful”? This is why the community of the church is so important. Have you ever notice a trend in people who tell the truth or who say something that they have tried to bury deep? After they share it with a caring friend they say, “I feel so much better”, and rightly, they should.
Let me ask you something. If you placed your hand on a hot burner and felt no pain what would you think? You would think something is wrong because your hand is not communicating to your brain that “I am getting hurt”. This can be a serious problem and people have actually died from “not being able to feel pain”. You can bleed out and not even know you have bumped yourself. So I ask you this: how is it any different with the body of Christ?
We as Christians are one body. It is important that we know one another and communicate freely with one another. We need to be honest when we are hurting or else we may literally loose an arm – two arms are much more effective than one. So is it possible that these walk-by-greetings are hindering the body of Christ? It would seem so. For if the hand tried to tell the brain “I hurt” but the brian is shut off to it, the brain will not get the message. It can also be said that if the brain is attentive to the hand but the hand will not send the signal, the message will not be given.
Why do we feel this need to lie to one another? Not only that but a willingness to believe that lie? We may think to ourselves oh he looks horribly sad or he looks like he's had a rough week. Then we ask him “How are you doing?” and his response is, of course, “I'm doing well”. We then wipe our brow, thank God he offered that response, and continue on our way down the hall. Why? Because if he would of said “I'm not doing well” we would have felt yet another obligation: one to inquire as to why and then to listen yet again to his response, lengthy or not. My question is why don't we feel this second obligation devoid of his response? Why don't we feel the need to inquire why he looks so bad in the first place, even if he lies to us? (I am not supposing that we should assume – don't take it to that extreme. I am just saying when you see someone you know and they look bad you can usually tell something is weighing on them). We are all one body and should be concerned about each individual part as we are concerned with not chopping off our own fingers when we cut wood or not getting the ax stuck in our shin when we split it.
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