The last few days I have been researching, studying, and praying over my next topic within this series. I felt very compelled by the Holy Spirit to write about “The Body of Christ”. I feel He moved this topic on my heart because I recently have experienced the benefit of becoming more apart of our “Body of Christ” at Northwest Christian. When Jason and I moved here, we pretty quickly found a church we felt confident God had led us to. However it has taken us quite awhile to become really connected and find out where we belonged within the church. So as I have been discovering my part in the body of Christ, I thought I would share some of what God has revealed to me through out this time.
When we choose to be a disciple of Jesus, to trust Him completely, we automatically become a part of “the Body of Christ.” But, do we fully understand what that means? There are quite a few verses that address this topic. If you search (as I did) “the body of Christ” at biblegateway.com, you will get 2 pages worth of results.
Many of the verses specifically refer to the church being the body.
Colossians 1:18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.
Ephesians 5:23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Back in high school and my late teens I remember quite a few times when I had conversations with people who claimed to be Christians but didn’t think they needed to go to church to be a Christian. And, indeed you don’t have to attend church to be a Christian. The scriptures are very clear. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by God’s grace through the exercise of the faith He has given us. It is not of any work in which we might engage. That includes going to Sunday worship or any other “church” service. God does it all. We simply accept what He has already done for us on the cross.
But, if you have decided to be a disciple of Jesus and the Bible says clearly that the church is the body of Christ in this world in which we live, one would think that you would want to be a part of Christ’s body. Ephesians 5:25 says Christ loves the church. If we are followers of Jesus it only makes sense that we would love what He loves, that we would desire to be a part of that of which He is a part. Which brings me to the real question with which I struggle . . .
I ask myself, “Katie, are you an effective part of the body of Christ?”
1 Corinthians 12:12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
Romans 12:4-6 “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well….”
The bible says we, Christians, each are a part of the body, with a special function. We all have God-given gifts and talents. He gave us these functions, gifts, to work TOGETHER and partner with HIM in advancing the Kingdom of Heaven.
If I had been studying this topic back in high school I might have said to those people who didn’t think they needed to attend church to be a Christian that “It must be hard for a member of the body of Christ to function properly if it’s trying to work separately and on their own….” That’s just not the way God intended the body to be. He intended for everyone, every part, to work together. That is how we can be the most effective in our Faith. I really like how The Message translates 1 Corinthians 12 and specifically this at verse 27-31: You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.
With out bouncing all over the place let me emphasize something. Attending church on Sundays will not make you an effective member of Christ’s body. If that is all we do, is show up, sing some songs, listen to a message, leave inspired and feeling good, yet do nothing, we are not working as a part of His body. What Sunday morning worship I believe is intended for is 1.) TO WORSHIP. (Which is a WHOLE different lengthy topic we could delve into some day 🙂 ) and 2.) Sunday is meant to re-energize us FOR His work OUTSIDE the church building. Sunday morning worship (and other worship and study times) enables you to gather with other believers, be encouraged by other believers, and be held accountable by other believers. It is RARE that you will find these things if you aren’t apart of some kind of body. You can’t find these things sitting at home watching a service on TV. (and obviously there are SOME situations where this is what a person may be limited too). My point in all this is, don’t get hung up on “Sunday morning church”, but get wrapped up in what Jesus has for you as a Christian in communing with fellow believers, gathering as one body, to focus on Christ, and learn how you can be a functioning and effective “part” of His body.
Back to BEING an effective part of His body. First you have to learn what your gift is. Sometimes we know it right away, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to figure it out. In studying all this I really enjoyed reading 1 Corinthians 12 in its entirety translated by The Message. I encourage you to as well 🙂
I have found that the best way to learn where you are most effective within the body of Christ is to serve. Typically, your home church would have, somewhere, a list compiled of different ministries. There are children’s ministries, food pantries, homeless ministries, senior adult ministries, knitting ministries, youth ministries, crisis pregnancy, prayer teams, encouragement teams, there are ministries that you probably are totally unaware of that could use a body part like yourself 😉 There are different levels of commitment involved with any ministry. You certainly don’t want to over commit yourself and neglect your home front which in case you forgot is ALSO a ministry 🙂
But we have to be honest with ourselves and stop making excuses for why we aren’t serving somewhere and being active, effective parts in the body of Christ. I can’t tell you how often I have said “I can’t commit to serving because I have a husband and small children and I’m needed at my home ministry right now” and than proceed to commit to a 26.2 mile run that consumes upwards of 10 hours a WEEK for 3-4 months, of training. (Well I’ve only done that once but you get my point.) I’ve spent time in other areas for “good reasons” but what is a better reason then FOR HIS GLORY? And truly, knowing from the times I’ve experienced it, there is nothing more freeing, nothing more fulfilling, then doing something for HIS glory and not my own motives or self gratifying reasons.
You start small. You start with obedience. The song by Casting Crowns just “happened” to pop in my head, (totally Jesus 😉 ) “If we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching? Why aren’t His hands healing? Why aren’t His words teaching?……Why is His love not showing them there is a way?” Them being everyone…. husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, friends, neighbors, strangers, EVERYONE.
So Katie…. no excuses, make an effort, do YOUR part in the Body of Christ.