Summary: In the Church, we’re put here together by Jesus.
We’re Here Together
May 7, 2005
We’re here together, in our church. What is our relationship to each other? Sometimes, as we go along, we become unclear about our relationship with each other, or we simply forget what it ought to be. We have to understand what Jesus sees and what He wants for us to see, as we are together in this, part of Jesus’ great church.
The church is an organism. What is an organism, you might wonder? Well, let’s think about this for a minute. In the NT, there are nearly 100 word pictures of the church. The church is the household of God, the people of God, the bride of Christ, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, just to name four. The church expert, named Paul, had a favourite image. He saw the church as a body- the body of Jesus Christ, which brings us to what an organism is. The church, as an organism, or as a body, is a life-pulsating people who are animated by the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ. The body is alive. The church is a living being- an organism. The church is not a company; it is not an organization, or an institution, or a business. Although there are elements of each of those, in the church, sometimes, it is not accurate to use those terms, primarily. The church is a living, moving, growing body- the body of our Lord, Jesus Christ- it has those, who are part of it, sharing in divine life.
So, in this organism, what is our relationship to each other? We’re into a season of celebrating relationships- Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, St. Jean Baptiste Day, July 1, July 4- all celebrate various aspects of various important relationships. How do we relate to each other- what is our relationship with each other, in the church?
Paul, again, the church expert, speaks of our relationships of interdependence in three ways.
1. We belong to each other.
2. We need each other.
3. We affect each other.
1. We Belong to Each Other
1 Cor.12.13- this says that everyone, no matter who we are or what we have done, comes into the church by the same means. We all must come humbly on our knees- we did not choose Christ, but he chose us. Someone has said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Though we might try to live without God, his sovereign Spirit opens our hearts. We are drawn into a new life from above, picked up by the scruff of the neck and placed into his body, the church. The only thing we may have in common with the person next to us in worship is that we do not deserve to be here. God has wonderfully and gently come into our lives so that each of us has a story of our coming- our wooing, really- to tell. What knits us together is that we belong in Christ.
So, we have no choice about who our brothers and sisters are. God did not and will not consult with us on whom he brings into the body. Every other human organization can set its standards for membership and filter out those not to their liking. But, by listing, “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free,” Paul declared that racial, ethnic, and religious heritage and station or class I life are meaningless to the church. Through baptism in the Holy Spirit we enter into this divine body and find ourselves with others who have also been chosen. From the world’s viewpoint this can make for strange bedfellows. But when the most unlikely people are reconciled through Christ, then insurmountable earthly barriers are overcome.
Charles Colson tells a story of a dinner gathering that included Harold Hughes, a former senator; Tommy Tarrant, a white racist; Eldridge Cleaver, a militant black activist, and Colson, a former White House official.
“What a strange collection of people: the one-time Nixon loyalist, a recovered alcoholic and liberal Democratic senator from Iowa, a member of the Black Panther Party and an avowed Marxist revolutionary out on bail, and an ex-Ku Klux Klan terrorist doing 35 years in prison. Here were men who represented opposite poles culturally, politically, socially; it would be unthinkable in the world’s eyes that they could come together for any purpose. Yet on this night they prayed together, wept together, and embraced- joined together by the power of the Holy Spirit in a fraternity that transcends all other.”
We belong to each other because we first belong to Christ. Don’t let anyone persuade you that the church and the people in it don’t matter to you.
2. We Need Each Other
According to Paul’s body image, all the parts are interdependent and necessary for the body’s health. God has so designed things that the involvement of every person with his special contribution is necessary for the proper functioning of the community. No individual part can function without a connection to the other parts. A hand disconnected form the wrist is useless.