Summary: God trusts us to help each other and work together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to do his work in our hurting world. The body of Christ can accomplish great things when we work together to fulfill the mission and vision God has given us.
Several years ago, when I was working for a local lumber mill, the company had a contest where the employees were encouraged to come up with a slogan that portrayed the company’s mission. The slogan was to be used on all of the company’s promotional material. The winning entry was “Together We’re Better”, and it reflected the employees’ desire to work together to produce top-quality products.
Christianity can use the same motto, because together as Christians we can go a long way to fulfilling God’s call in our world. In Romans 12:1-8, Paul tells us about the internal life of the Christian community and its relationship to the surrounding world. In Colossians 3:12, he goes on to tell us how our Christian life is transformed into a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We are to adopt these qualities, but we can’t do it on our own. As we surrender our lives to God’s control, he changes us so that our lives become a reflection of Christ, thus exemplifying each of these qualities. This gives us a spirit of submission in the fear of God.
Jesus is the reason we have been forgiven of our sins. He is the author of our salvation. Forgiveness is just the beginning. The Christian life is a journey in which we take thousands of steps to become more like Jesus.
God is never pleased when someone says, “I love Jesus, but I don’t need the church”. No Christian can walk alone in his or her faith journey. We need each other and should serve and support each other with love and gladness. Christians are part of one body-the body of Christ. Each Christian has a part to play in that body, and if one Christian doesn’t perform his or her function to the best of their ability, the entire body loses its effectiveness. Our unity is built on the Church’s body of truth-the Scriptures. They tell us that we are not to live independently of one another, but dependently, as members of a body. We have a hunger to belong-a hunger that can only be satisfied by our new life in Christ. We need each other. Just as eyes can’t provide hearing and ears can’t provide sight, we provide for the rest of the body the gifts which others lack. (Pause)
Unfortunately, even the best of families have conflict, and the Christian body is no exception. Jacob and Esau did not get along. King Saul tried to kill David. Paul wanted nothing to do with his former traveling companion Mark. The New Testament is full of advice on resolving difficulties, but it can be summed up in this three-step process. First, be factual. Relationships grounded in the truth are helpful to all, but not all truth is ours to tell. Truth told in confidence must be kept in confidence. Also, truth must be told at the right time and in the right way. Second, be flexible. It will be a happier day when we stop demanding perfection from others, especially when we ourselves are far from perfect. Finally, be forgiving. Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you have with one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives us.
We are what we are by the grace of God. As such, we are to be transparent vessels of God’s anointing. We are to dress in his robes of righteousness and his countenance of glory. We are called to a different standard of living. We are never going to be able to wear the uniform of the world without realizing that underneath it we also wear our relationship with Jesus Christ. It means that there will be times when we will not fit in with other crowds…when we will look different…unusual…odd.
That’s OK, because whether they know it or not, the world is echoing what the Apostle Peter says. “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”. We are actually fulfilling what Paul encouraged us to do: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed”. We are only accidentally in this world. We are really part of the Body of Christ. We are part of the people who are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The ways of the world, the way the world judges and evaluates things are not the way things really are. And that is precisely Paul’s point.
We are called to look at the world with different eyes-the eyes of Christ, because as Christians we are called to be the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ in our world. We are to do what we can to save others’ lives-physically and spiritually. We are called to be witnesses through our testimony-both verbal and non-verbal. Both types of testimony must be clear, visible and consistent. Paul calls us to live our lives not by conforming to the the standards of this age, but by allowing ourselves to be changed and live by Christ’s standards. We must rid ourselves of and forget about those things which have been an obstruction in our lives. We are to sacrifice our lives to God at all times and in all places. We have to go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically. We must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into a new, free, full life.