The Hands and Feet of Christ

As it is, there are many members, yet one body. . . . Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I Corinthians 12.20,27

As Christians we have an interesting phrase as a reminder of our personhood as Christians: “you are the hands and feet of Christ in the world.” And this is true because we know that Christ is no longer in the world today and we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. And it is through the Church that the world can see who Christ is because we truly are his body left on earth. However, I don’t think we grasp the full gravity of this metaphor when we use it, because this metaphor, even though it isn’t directly from the Bible, speaks to far more about the Christian life than we would often care to admit.

The only time I hear this metaphor of being the hands and feet of Christ is in relation to doing things. “You are the hands of Christ, care for the poor” or “you are the feet of Christ, so strive to carry the gospel with you wherever you go.” So this metaphor becomes a call to action, a call to be like Christ in all that we do and not just in name only. And this is true. We are to be like Christ, we are his ambassadors, we are to let our light so shine before others that they might see our Father in heaven. But this is not, I think, the most profound implication of this metaphor.

The Christian life is a life where we can expect to suffer. Whether it is in terms of normal hardships that exist to refine us and make us more like Christ, or if it is actively being made to lose out for our faith and principles. We know that we are not of this world, as John writes to us in his account of the gospel and that the world does not accept those who are not of this world. And for an increasingly unchristian West we do see this. Increasingly the values of Christianity are at odds with the values of an increasingly secular society.  This metaphor is not just about doing things but it is also about how we suffer as Christians because the greatest work that the hands and feet of Christ did was to be pierced for our transgressions, that by suffering we might be made children of God.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Being the hands and feet of Christ means we are to be like Christ in the sense that all that we do must be done with a heart poured out for others. We must, for the joy and purpose that is set before us, endure this life.

We are the hands and feet of Christ. Let us therefore remember that we are not part of this world, but that we belong to Christ and suffer with him so that we may be glorified with him. Let us strive for the goal that is set before us regardless of what may happen and let us remember that we truly are God’s ambassadors in this world.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

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