Summary: We are far more prone to think too highly of ourselves than to think too poorly of ourselves. Such thinking tends to divide the people of God.

“What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” [1]

Our contemporaries, and likely we ourselves, esteem the rugged individual. We imagine that we are distinct from everyone else. We are taught in elementary school that there is no one exactly like us. Biblical Christianity challenges conclusions we may draw from this concept, however. Whenever we speak of a church, we understand that we are speaking of a body. Moreover, we are taught that we do not simply “join” a congregation; we are placed within the assembly of God’s own choosing. We are not placed within these assemblies in a capricious manner; rather, we are divinely appointed to bless those with whom we unite.

BACKGROUND FOR THE STUDY — One of the woefully neglected areas of instruction provided to God’s professed people in this day is the study of ecclesiology—the doctrine of the church. Unfortunately, whenever we hear the term “the church,” we have been trained to think of an amorphous, indefinite entity to which all who believe belong. Unquestionably, the preponderance of occurrences of the term in the New Testament refers to a local congregation. It is not my intent to invest time reviewing all the instances of the occurrence of the term in the New Testament. What is vital is that we understand what God has done in the life of His people in order to ensure that they are built up, encouraged and comforted!

Listen to a vital, though neglected, portion of Paul’s Letter to the Church at Corinth. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” [1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-11].

When one is saved, the Spirit of God takes up residence in the life of that individual [JOHN 14:15-17]. From what is written in the passage referred to moments ago, it is apparent that according to His own will God Himself gifts each individual believer. Let me put this in practical terms. As a Christian, you are a gifted individual. More than that, you are a gift to that congregation where God has placed you. There are no inferior Christians; each is important.

There is another point to consider. Throughout the pages of the New Testament, there is no such creature as an unchurched Christian! God places Christians in a particular congregation where that one is to appointed to serve. Make no mistake; the child of God is saved to serve. We tend to focus on the personal benefits of salvation, often neglecting the broader responsibility to invest our gifts and our lives in the lives of our fellow believers. God expects us to serve.

The service we are appointed to provide is the exercise of the particular gifts God entrusted to each one of us—gifts for the benefit of the assembly where we are placed. Focus once again on one verse in the passage I just read. “To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all” [1 CORINTHIANS 12:7 NET]. God gifted you precisely so that you could benefit your fellow believers; this is your assignment as a Christian.

Iterating what has already been said, God gifts each believer and His gifting is to equip the people of God to serve one another within the Body where each one has been placed. Failure to serve one another is perhaps the greatest deficit of contemporary Christianity. We come into our churches with the baggage imposed through the world’s training—training that teaches us of the necessity to be individualists; and we attempt to impose that attitude on the Body of Christ. We are trained to be served, and we appear to believe that serving others is somehow demeaning or unworthy of a redeemed individual. However, as Christians, we were saved and set where God chose so that we might serve others. Every saint is a servant.

Jesus spoke often of serving others. Assuredly, Jesus spoke of those who followed Him as His servants. Near the end of His time with His disciples, Jesus taught them, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” [JOHN 12:26].

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