Summary: Paul tells us how we can function as the body of Christ and thus, present the likeness of Christ to a lost world.
Once again, the Apostle Paul discusses the unity of the local church. Here he uses the picture of a body to speak about how we are to function in unity. From Paul’s discussion of how God sees His church as being like a body, we learn four things about how the body (the local church) is to function. Let’s consider these four laws that relate to how God has designed us to function as a body - the body of Christ.
1. We must each accept our responsibility – vs. 15-16
Each of us has a responsibility within the life of the local church. Therefore the degree to which our church becomes all that it ought to be is determined by the degree to which each of us is willing to find and fulfill the responsibilities that God has uniquely gifted us to carry out as part of this local body of believers.
Often, when we think of who is responsible for the state of the church ,we look to the pastor. After all, wasn’t he supposedly called by God to serve our local church? But it is important to understand that the pastor isn’t the only one who should be called to be serve a local church. EVERY MEMBER should be a member because he or she has felt the call of God to serve as part of that local church. That means that we are each responsible to some degree for our church’s condition.
‘Sez I to myself, as I grumbled and growled, “I’m sick of my church,” and then how I scowled. “The members unfriendly, the sermons too long; in fact, it seems that everything’s wrong. I don’t like the singing; the church - a disgrace, for signs of neglect are all over the place. I’ll quit going there, and won’t give a dime; I can make better use of my money and time.”
Then my conscience sez to me, sez he, “The trouble with you is, you’re too blind to see that your church reflects you, whatever it be. Now come, pray, and serve cheerfully. Stop all your
faultfinding and boost it up strong, you’ll find you’ll be happy and proud to belong. Be friendly, be willing, and sing as you work, for churches are not built by members who shirk.”
2. We must each accept our limitations – vs. 17-18
While we must each accept our responsibility, we must each also
accept our limitations.
God did not intend for one person to do everything - even if that person is the pastor! His intention is that as each of us does his part, our church will better reflect Christ.
Sad to say, though, in most churches, 10% of the people do 90% of the work. In this respect, too many churches can be described in the same way that Bud Wilkerson, legendary former coach at the University of Oklahoma described a professional football game: “A happening when 50,000 people desperately needing exercise sit in the stands watching 22 people desperately needing rest.”
While this state in a church can be due to each member not being willing to accept their responsibility, it can also be true because certain ones within the church are not willing to accept their limitations.
One of the barriers to growth in a church is often that of opening up leadership circles. Indeed, often, one of the ways God uses to give a church new direction is through the new people He sends its way. As new folks come into the church fellowship who have different ideas, gifts, skills, experiences, etc. God may be wanting to use them to lead the church in a new direction or to a new ministry. Therefore, to limit the contribution that can be made by new members can sometimes, mean we are limiting the work God wants to do among us!
As members of the body of Christ, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has protrusions and indentations. The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts, talents, abilities), and the indentations represent our weaknesses (faults, limitations, shortcomings, undeveloped areas). The beautiful thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful whole.
Just as each piece of a puzzle is important, so each member of the body of Christ is important and can minister to the other members of the body. Just as, when one piece is missing from the puzzle, its absence is very obvious and damages the picture, so also is the whole weakened when we are absent from the body of Christ.
Just as, when each piece of a puzzle is in place, any one piece is not conspicuous but blends in to form the whole picture, so it should be in the body of Christ.