The Body of Christ- Getting involved in your local congregation
Originally published in Union County Leader
Co-pastor, 1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM 88424
Randall Floyd, of the Clayton Assembly of God and regular writer of this column, regularly ends his column with an exhortation and invitation for readers to attend a local congregation. In today’s lesson, I’d like to examine that invitation in more detail. I meet many Christians who either are not involved in their congregation or don’t even attend a church at all. Scripture has much to say about this and we’ll look at 1 Corinthians 12. I encourage you to read the entire chapter for yourself, but right now, I’d like to point out several highlights:
1 Corinthians 12:1-27 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: … (7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: … (12) For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. … (14) For in fact the body is not one member but many. …. (18) But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. …. (22) No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary…. (27) Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. (NKJV)
Note that Paul says in verse 1 that he does not want his reader to be ignorant of these gifts. Christians should understand their gifts and understand the purpose of those gifts. Paul makes it plain in v. 7 that gifts of the Spirit are given to EACH ONE for the benefit of all. Do not overlook the significance of that “each one”! Nor are spiritual gifts to be hoarded and used for the benefit of the individual. Paul then uses the analogy of a body to show that all parts are necessary for the health of the whole body, and that those parts we often think are “lesser” are in fact, some of the more valuable parts. Think about your big toe, for instance. When it comes to walking, most people recognize the importance of their knee or their femur, but if you ever break your big toe, you’ll never again take it for granted, as it is almost impossible to walk without the stabilization of that digit. The big toe is critical for the “push-off” portion of your stride, and it’s often the first thing to hit something in your path. Far from being just another digit, your big toe is a key member of your body. Likewise, people too often look at the pastor or some other highly visible member of the congregation as the “king pin” but it’s often the unrecognized member of the church body who is the most valuable. Paul argues this point all through the 12th chapter of his epistle.
But a more key point is this- according to v. 18 “God has set the members…in the body, just as He pleased”. This begs a difficult question. If you are not a contributing member to the body of Christ- and by “contributing”, I mean attending (with your mind as well as body!), praying, concerned, listening, growing, giving, taking, and interacting- then are you indeed part of the body? If you are not part of the body of the Christ, then to whom do you belong? This should be a sobering thought (Matthew 7:22). We know that Christians are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and we know that Christ not only said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, (Acts 20:35) but demonstrated it throughout his ministry to the point of giving his life for our salvation. Therefore, if we are truly part of the body of Christ, are we giving to the rest of the body? And are we allowing them to give to us? A Christian cannot exist in a vacuum and is not a single arm or leg walking all by itself- they are part of a body and part of a visible, local body at that. This is echoed by the author of Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, (25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (NKJV)
Note, once again, that the purpose of assembling is to “consider one another” for the express purpose of “stir[ring] up love and good works”.
If you are a confessed Christian who is not assembling with a local church, I urge you to find a Bible-teaching church and assemble with like-minded brethren. If you are currently assembling, but are not a contributing member, I urge you to discover and exercise your spiritual gift. “Stir up”, exhort, encourage, and strengthen the body of Christ to which, I pray, you belong.
Forward to Part 2