The Body, Part 2
A call to realize your essential part in the Kingdom
In Part 1 of this Series we talked about the amazing creation that is our bodies. We spoke of how each part, from our vital organs to the most microscopic cell was created to work together in harmony and each part is necessary for the whole to be healthy.
The same, I believe, can be said of the Church as the body of Christ.
Let’s look at Ephesians 4:11-16
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people….So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ…From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
(All italics mine)
“But to EACH ONE OF US He gave gifts.”
Did you see that? Not “But to each extroverted person with a leadership personality and/or a great singing voice has been given as Christ apportioned it.” The Western church seems to have forgotten this part. In our quest for bigger, better, more spectacular experiences, we have elevated the parts of the body that feed us and have forgotten we also have a role. We have elevated those with the gift of leadership and those with the gift of communication and in doing so we have minimized and marginalized other parts of the body of Christ.In our quest for bigger, better, more spectacular experiences, we have elevated the parts of the body that feed us and have forgotten we also have a role. Click To Tweet
In a body, if we prioritize the mouth and forget about all other parts we will cause disease. Muscles atrophy, bones deteriorate, systems break down. There is a severe imbalance. The parts that are overemphasized eventually implode. Tragically, there are regular examples of this happening; of leaders that have been put on pedestals imploding.
The same is true in The Body of Christ. We have been prioritizing the mouthpieces of the Church and forgetting all the muscles and ligaments necessary to move the mouth. The mouth is important but we need arms and legs! We need fingers and toes!
“So, CHRIST HIMSELF GAVE the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers”
Have we done a disservice to the body of Christ by treating these roles as if they were a career choice someone made?
Here is what I have witnessed in my 30+ years of being a follower of Jesus—we treat these offices as a calling from God when it suits our needs. We call a pastor to our church and proclaim that God sent them to us, and then when they do something we don’t like, we dispose of them like they are employees of the church rather than servants of God.
Now, number one—I’m not speaking of something that disqualifies them from service. There are absolutely biblical reasons to ask a pastor, teacher, or leader to step down. This is not in any way saying that a pastor should be treated as untouchable. If anything, a pastor should be living constantly with the knowledge that He can and will be removed if God so deems it.
Number two—I am not speaking out of bitterness. Sadness, but not bitterness. Those who know me personally know that we have experienced this ourselves, but I have seen this in friends, colleagues, or from a distance over and over through the years. This is not unique to one church, this is a disease rampant among religious organizations across the world.
There are some high-profile examples of pastors on power trips that abuse churches, but for every megachurch that makes it into the media there are many more faithful pastors and their families that get chewed up and spit out by abusive churches.
Is God going to bless a “church” that repeatedly abuses the servants He himself raised up and sent to them? Ministry families lay in ditches all across the world after being trampled on by church boards and councils.
And why did Christ Himself give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, preachers, and teachers?
“to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
2021 Western Church Translation “The search committee themselves selected a man to become pastor of the church in order to entertain the members, encourage the older people, keep the younger people in church, and in general make us feel good about ourselves.”
No. To equip HIS PEOPLE for works of service.
We were meant to serve. Not to sit and consume. When we sit and consume we become content, educated, and mostly not very useful. We become lazy. Dare I say that the larger our churches have become in the West, the more irrelevant Christianity has become in our society? Please, no nasty emails.We were meant to serve. Not to sit and consume. When we sit and consume we become content, educated, and mostly not very useful. We become lazy. Dare I say that the larger our churches have become in the West, the more irrelevant… Click To Tweet
And whoever gave us the impression that our gifts were given to us to serve in the church? (building, I should say…). Yes He gave preachers and teachers and kid’s ministers and such, but He also gave the gift of Helps so that some people would feel compelled to help their elderly neighbor mow the grass, and the gift of mercy so that people would be drawn to work in healthcare and lay their hands upon the sick and dying.
All gifts were given to us to serve so that “the body of Christ would be built up and we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God”, people inside our buildings already of the “knowledge of the Son of God”, so these gifts can’t just be for that purpose.
“From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Please catch this, it’s so important. The whole body, of Christ, is joined and held together by EVERY supporting ligament and will only grow properly as EACH PART does its work.
Have you ever seen a ligament? Probably not. They are invisible but essential.
What part did God give you to play in His Church? Because He DID give you a part.
Just like our amazing bodies will never function properly if we treat them improperly and don’t use every part the way it was designed to be used, the Church will never function properly if we continue to treat it as a place we come to be entertained; if we continue to operate as consumers of religious goods and services rather than vital parts of the body.
It’s time for each and every one of us to step up and find our place to serve. We sing and pray about wanting revival, but revival only happens with the Spirit fills and empowers a multitude of believers. Not just one or two parts being a little warmer than the rest but the whole body activated by the Spirit and on fire.
It’s time to stop elevating the mouths in the body (the people up front) and remember that every gift was given by God to be used for His Kingdom.
It’s time to remember that we have an essential part to play. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. You cannot outsource your God-given responsibility to the hired professionals. You are irreplaceable so push through the excuses, get off the pew, and start serving.
ChristianWeek relies on your generous support. please take a minute and donate to help give voice to stories that inform, encourage and inspire.Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable receipt.
Thank you, from Christianweek.