For over 1,000 years women, from the age of five, in China broke their toes and bound their feet to prevent their natural growth and obtain the "perfect" three inch length. It was a sign of prestige, beauty and wealth*.
Reading about this and looking at the photos of their feet makes me physically sick - that someone would take something beautifully designed by God and distort it into a grotesque thing just because it conforms to an image they want to convey.
So what on earth has this got to do with the body of Christ?
"But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." (1Cr 12:18 NIV)
We all know that the people of God make up the body of Christ each with their function and that we need all of them to function rightly.
But just like the foot binding, what we do is impose an external "structure" on the body and fit people into that mould. For example, suppose we have a gap in the children's work and we see someone who is not currently serving - well we say, you're not doing anything come and fill this gap. Job done. Church is working well as all our slots are filled. Or alternatively, someone asks if they can serve in the youth group as they feel they have a calling there. Sorry, we reply, we've got everyone we need - all our slots are filled. Have you considered serving in this area where we have gaps instead?
Maybe I'm naive, but it says that God has ordained purposes for each member and has a certain place that He wants them to be. So shouldn't we start with praying and asking God to show us how each person is created and purposed and then encourage, train and release them to be who Christ has made them to be?
So when one of the co-leaders asked "What role do you have for us?" I responded "How has God made you? What passions do you have? What makes you come alive?".
Father, keep me from imposing my structure on your body. Let me be someone who releases people to be all you have created them to be. In Jesus name.
*As only wealthy families could afford to have the women of the house not at work.