One Body, Many Parts (Identity in Christ Part 19)

MRI Showing Tumor in Spine

Hello dear friends. Tonight I wanted to talk about something I am passionate about, the Body of Christ. As His co-labors we are called to not only have a relationship with Him, but with other believers. Each member of the Body has a role to play. Christ is the head of the church. We cannot not function without Him. If we as the Body do nothing, how successful are we at building His Kingdom? If my body is paralyzed, I am not going to move as quick or be as effective. Let’s investigate what Paul had to say.

Unity and Diversity in the Body-1 Corinthians 12-31.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And 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.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

In our western society we focus mainly on a few parts of the Body: pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and worship leaders. They are the noticeable parts of the Body. They are the honored parts of the Body. Well, what about everyone else? Paul states every person has a role to play and the parts that seem weaker are indispensable. The parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. What if your role in the Body is to invest in your children, or pass out flyers, or set up or tear down at church? What if your role is to infiltrate business, arts, media, education, politics, or your workplace with the Gospel and love of Jesus? What if what you do for God goes unnoticed by everyone but Him? It’s easy to look at other people and think God only uses certain people. It’s also easy in the western world to come to church Sunday after Sunday and not invest anything in anyone. It’s easy to come to be served instead of serve. It’s easy to go unnoticed in larger congregations, no one sees you come or go. It’s easy to not know anyone from your church. That is not what Paul told us we are to be. No condemnation here. We don’t invest out of guilt, but love. If we are forced to serve or invest in people or the Kingdom, God tells us we can keep our gifts.

What’s stopping us from being active parts of His Body? Here are some possible reasons.

1. We are comparing ourselves to others instead of looking to Christ to find out what role we are to play.

2. We think of church as a place to go instead of a community we are to be actively involved in.

3. We think God only uses and speaks to special people.

4. We are waiting on some sign to tell us what to do.

5. We are consumers instead of investors.

6. We are relying on someone else to do it. We rely heavily on the same people who are “called” instead of recognizing we are all called to fill a role.

7. We want a front and center role instead of an unrecognized one.

8.  We are waiting to be asked instead of volunteering or serving without being asked or noticed.

9. We don’t see how vital we are to the Body.

10. We are inward focused instead of community focused.

11. We think the Holy Spirit only works through certain people, “special people.”

First let me say the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is working in born again believers. It’s not a different Holy Spirit for different people. I’ve seen children with spiritual insight and operating in the gifts of the Spirit. They are extremely effective because they are relying on God and aren’t filled with unbelief. God works through ordinary people.

Jesus told the disciples to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, drive out evil spirits, disciple others. We are called to do the same things. We are here to do what we saw Jesus doing. Freely we received, freely we give (Matthew 10:8). We all have a role we can play. The role no matter how small we think it is, is important to God.

What if you’re wondering how to daily or weekly bless the Body of Christ. I talked to a friend tonight about this very topic, we can think of how we enjoy blessing people and do that. If you like hosting events, be a host. If you like kids, volunteer to help a mom or in children’s ministry. If you enjoy encouraging people, encourage people. If you like giving, give. If you have words of wisdom or insight, share them. If you enjoy praying for people, pray. If you like teaching, teach. God encourages us to eagerly ask for opportunities to bless others. He is not stingy. He will use us mightily for Him. I read a quote that I love, “We can all do great things as long as we don’t care who gets the credit.” We are all called to bear one anther’s burdens, pray, give, share, love. There are ways we can all be a blessing.

Closing thoughts:

You have a significant role to play that no other person was destined to play. You are a crucial part of Christ’s Body. No part is insignificant or not valued. I was in a car accident the end of January and had one rib out of place and two cervical disks out of alignment. The nerve pain radiated down my arms, to my fingers. The burning pain was awful. The tops of my feet felt like they were on fire. I could not get comfortable. It took the Spine specialist ~10 minutes to put them back into alignment and the pain was gone. It wasn’t my brain, heart, lungs, or major organs malfunctioning. It was a small rib and two disks that impacted most of my body. I even had tingling on face. Every part must work for the Body to be as effective as it can be.

May we never forget we are to work together to build God’s Kingdom. We all have a role to play and it’s for His Glory.

The Point of Christian Fellowship

Wrote this today as I pondered what’s the point of our worship gatherings. Hope it blesses you.

The Fellowship of the Believers Acts 2

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What is the point of Christian fellowship? Sometimes I look around at church and it seems like a big party. Even our small groups seem like a party at times. People show up for the snacks and want to hang out and make friends, some are spouse shopping or looking for a friend. All those things are good things. They are great things! God wants us to enjoy each other and have a good time. The problem comes when we believe that is all church is for. It’s one big party where people are supposed to make us feel good. What can we learn from the first church see passage above.
 

1.       They adhered to the teachings of the apostles. We can spend our entire lives in church and still miss God. How? If we are not applying and adhering to His teachings we are just taking up space on Sunday.

2.       They prayed together. Prayer is vital. Not one person praying but they all prayed together.

3.       They had everything in common. This means unity of spirit. They weren’t bickering, fighting, filled with offense, and strife. They had God in common and focused their attention on Him.

4.       They gave sacrificially to those in need. The Acts church sold their possessions to care for those who did not have. They were outward focused. Each person connected to each other. They didn’t come to be served. They came to serve.

5.       They ate together and fellowshipped outside of church. They viewed church as family.

6.       They praised God together. Worship was a part of everyday life.

7.       Point each other to Jesus (added by me). Part of community is pointing another person to Jesus. Jesus never agreed with the disciples sin or went along with their poor behavior. He corrected in love. He used every moment as a teaching moment.

I had someone tell me in community that she didn’t want me pointing out areas for improvement based on the Bible for her life. She wanted to me to hang out and simply agree with any sin she partook in. Well, I will tell you part of Christian community is pointing each other to Jesus and the Bible. Any person who knows Jesus and refuses to point you to Him, doesn’t love you. Sin leads to death. And while Jesus paid for the eternal consequences of our sin, the sins we commit still impact us and those around us.

I am thankful for people who will point me to Jesus in a loving way. The Bible is the blueprint they use for correction, not their own opinions. And I am thankful for any person who wants me to be more like Christ.

Are you in a community that’s like the Acts church? Are you fellowshipping with people who point you to Jesus, sacrificially give, promote unity, share, love, and serve together? Are you in a community that challenges you to be become more like Jesus? There’s no perfect church or pastor or leader. However, I believe the Acts church had it right. The point of our worship gatherings isn’t to just have one big party. Each member of the Body of Christ is called to do their part to encourage and build up the other members so as one unit we become more like Christ. Our pastors aren’t there to spoon feed us the word and then we go home. We are called as members of God’s body to seek Him for ourselves, to know God for ourselves, to join forces in unity to represent Him as a whole. That is what Christ died for, a Bride that functions as one unit. As Bill Johnson says, “Jesus is returning for a church who’s body is in equal proportion to her head (Jesus).”
 
May God bless you friends. And may we all take our place within the Body of Christ to be who we were called to be. Each member is crucial to the functioning of the church. We weren’t called to sit on the bench. Every part is needed in order for us to fulfill God’s will in the earth. You are valuable. Get out there and seize the day!

 

 

Relationship or Fellowship

The church I have been attending has been doing a series on 1 John called Walking in the Light.  It’s been a great series. Here are some thoughts from the teachings and teaching points.
 
What is the ultimate cause of the church?

God’s greatest cause is His Glory (His reputation) which is revealed through Christ.  We exist to bring God Glory. We also glorify God when we fellowship with His Body (other believers).

Fellowship or Relationship?

Relationship is different from fellowship. A person can have a child and be related to them, but have no fellowship with that child. We can be related to one another in the body of Christ by His Spirit and have no fellowship with each other.

What is Fellowship: Fellowship involves trust, intimacy, transparency (no masks or pretense), vulnerability, investment, common purpose, communion, submission, looking out for another person’s best interests, speaking the truth, correction and rebuking, edification, encouragement, and affirmation, and helping another person become more like Christ, mourning with those who mourn, and rejoicing with those who rejoice. Fellowship often involves covenant commitment. Fellowship involves mutual serving. Fellowship is a heart to heart connection, not just a face to face connection.

Fellowship has a purpose and is not a aimless activity. 

Many will claim relationship or being related to God who have no fellowship with Him.  We claim fellowship with one another in Christ, but are we simply relating and having aimless relationships and not fellowship?

Christian love is the act of serving each other and helping each other to become more like Christ. The purpose of Christian discipleship is intentional time spent to point each other back to the gospel. What does God’s word say? What is God speaking? Are we pointing people to Jesus, helping them become all that they can for Him, or are we simply spending time? Are we watching a person self destruct to for fear of man, or are we willing to tell a person that God’s plan is so much better? The pastor told the story of having spinach in his teeth. He said a person who loves you will tell you that your teeth are filled with spinach. They won’t let you walk around with gunk in your teeth. The same goes for us. If we can watch each other suffer, hurt, sin, and not help, we are guilty of not walking in love.

Summary:

I believe there is tremendous fruit when the purpose for being with someone is known, when the vision is shared, when there is a heart to heart connection, when the common purpose is glorifying God. I believe that fellowship was and is God’s design, not relationships as we have them. I believe God meant for us to do life together and point each other to Him. I believe He intended for us to serve one another continually, not just be served.  I believe that a church built on mutual love, service, accountability, unity, common purpose, and Jesus centered relationships will change the world. I believe we can change the world if we continue to ask the questions, “

How can I help this person be more like Jesus? How can I encourage this person to be more like Jesus? How can I pray for this person to be more like Jesus? Who does God want my heart connected to? Who does God want me to invest in for the Kingdom? Where and with whom should I spend my time serving? Is God being glorified by my relationships and how I spend time?”

 

Abba I pray that You would bring believers into our lives that we can grow with. Partner us up with others to have heart to heart connections and not just face to face encounters. Send people our way who will continually point to You and encourage us to be more like You. Send us people who will love as You love, speak as You speak, and those who help fulfill Your purposes for our lives. Help us to have God centered fellowship. Help us to use our time to be the most impactful for the Kingdom. Use us and spend us like Your spare change. Keep the focus on what You want to do in and though us. Help us to serve. Help us to love. Help us to disciple each other and the nations. Thanks for all You’ve done. Amen.

 

Have a wonderful week. You are deeply loved.