Summary: What does it mean to be the Body of Christ? Why would God refer to us that way?
OPEN: Centuries ago in Europe, a wealthy nobleman decided to build a church bldg. for the mountain village that he’d grown up in. Everybody, in the village was excited, but no one was permitted to see the plans, or the inside of the church building until it was finished. Finally, the day arrived, and people gathered on Sunday to marvel at the beauty of the new building.
But when they went inside… someone said, “Hey! Where are the lamps? It is dark in here. Where are the lamps?” Then the nobleman pointed to a line of brackets along the walls, and then he gave each of the families a lamp, telling them to “Bring your lamps each time you come to worship.” And he explained, “Each time you are here, the place where you’re seated will have light. But every time you are not here, your place will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to gather with the church, some part of the building will be dark”
APPLY: Now, I modified that illustration a little bit. The original story placed emphasis was on the idea that the Church building was the church. But it’s NOT! We (Christians) are the church, and this building is…well, it’s just a building that we meet in. This is not the church… you are the church! And so I modified the story so that you’d get my point. And the point is this: When Christians aren’t together in worship there’s something missing. It’s like there’s a bit of darkness that settles over our hearts.
Because WE NEED EACH OTHER!
In fact, the Bible is very clear about that idea that God’s people need each other. Back in the Old Testament God declared: “Two are better than one… If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
WE NEED EACH OTHER!!!
Sometimes congregations forget that. Sometimes churches believe their total purpose in life is to show up the building for church for worship and let the Preacher and the Elders and the Singers do all THE STUFF of worship. And so they smile, they sing, they pray, they listen to the sermon… and then they go home. BUT they don’t need each other. They just need the folks up front during “church.”
But Paul tells the Church at Corinth “NO! That’s not the way this works. “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:27
And Paul writes: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have NO NEED of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have NO NEED of you.’” I Corinthians 12:21
WE NEED EACH OTHER!
As Ecclesiastes reminds us - we’re in this together, and when we’re together - we have others around us to help us, to keep us warm, to protect us, and to keep us from being broken down by the hardships of life.
(PAUSE) Now, God deliberately uses the imagery of us being the BODY of Christ. And in Ephesians 5:29 we’re told “… no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church”
God reminds us that WE (who are part of that body) need each other and we need to nourish and cherish the BODY of believers that we’re part of.
So, think about this for a minute: How do you nourish/cherish YOUR physical body?
ILLUS: Well, you feed it (sometimes you feed it really well); You cleanse it (showers/baths/shaving, etc.); If you’re sick, you see a doctor; If your teeth hurt – you go see a dentist; You put clothes on body that (at least) you think makes you look good; And once in a while you even pamper yourself/ entertain yourself. Those are just some of the ways you and I nourish and cherish our mortal bodies. But now, God is telling you that you’re part of a huge SPIRITUAL body, and He’s asking YOU personally to help take care of that body.
How do we DO that? How do we nourish and cherish Christ’s body? Well first, we need realize that being part of the body of Christ means that God expects us “participate” with that body. Before the Covid crisis occurred, we did that a lot here. You were so involved with one another we deliberately scheduled a song we could sing to pull you back in because you folks just wouldn’t shut up and sit down otherwise.