I enjoy exploring wisdom from other faiths and seeing what connections I can make with my own faith. This quotation from the Dalai Lama (The goal is to develop an outlook in which you fully realize the interdependent nature of your well-being with that of others, and of your interests with other’s interests) immediately resonated with how I understand the body of Christ from Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 12.
Now the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I don’t belong to the body,” does that alter the fact that the foot is a part of the body? Of if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I don’t belong to the body,” does that mean that the ear really is no part of the body? After all, if the body were all one eye, for example, where would be the sense of hearing? Or if it were all one ear, where would be the sense of smell? But God has arranged all the parts in the one body according to his design. For if everything were concentrated in one part, how could there be a body at all? The fact is there are many parts, but only one body. So that the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” nor, again, can the head say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body which have no obvious function are the more essential to health: and to those parts of the body which seem to us to be less deserving of notice we have to allow the highest honour of function. The parts which do not look beautiful have a deeper beauty in the work they do, while the parts which look beautiful may not be at all essential to life! But God has harmonised the whole body by giving importance of function to the parts which lack apparent importance, that the body should work together as a whole with all the members in sympathetic relationship with one another. So it happens that if one member suffers all the other members suffer with it, and if one member is honoured all the members share a common joy.
(This is the JB Phillips version which I enjoy reading for a change as it has what comes across as a fresh turn of phrase,although the non-inclusive language grates at times).
It also reminds me of a conversation I had with a visitor to church who talked about those of us who were front of house and back of house. I know how much I appreciate the often unseen work of people which means that I can do my ministry tasks because they have done theirs and without the little things getting done ministry can be quite chaotic!
At a structural level, asking the question if decisions or actions have a positive impact on interdependent wellbeing as opposed to benefiting one small group can be a helpful question to ask. Decisions which promote self-interest can mean that the interests of others are being denied. It is challenging to think what interdependent wellbeing might look like in everyday practice but this fresh lens on the body of Christ is helping me to reflect on choices and actions