Summary: This sermon unpacks the phrase "the body of Christ" with a look at how God intends to great things through His people.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT WE ARE "THE BODY OF CHRIST"? Think of all that Jesus did and consider that we are now “His body.”
- Picture in your mind’s eye Jesus walking around Palestine. See Him reaching out with a compassionate hand. See Him walking among the outcasts. See Him eating meals with the hurting. See Him sharing the truth of God.
- We talk sometimes about “being the hands and feet of Christ.” What’s that mean?
- It means that Jesus is no longer here on this earth. You can’t see Him anymore. How are people supposed to see God’s mercy and grace? Through us.
- Just as Jesus was the physical representative of God when He walked this world, so we are to be His Body in the world now.
- People are usually going to see God in us before they see God in the Bible. Why? Because most aren’t going open the Bible, but our lives are before them daily.
- Let me put that idea in a different, more direct way.
A STAGGERING THOUGHT: “I am the living representative of Christ today at [fill in workplace or street].”
- Fill in your workplace (or if you don’t work your street name) in that last blank.
- Think about that: you are the living representative of Christ there. That’s a staggering thing.
- In some cases, you may be the only representative there.
- Are you living up to that? Are you living as the representative of Christ in your world?
THREE ASPECTS OF THIS TRUTH:
- The phrase “body of Christ” appears in each of these verses and each brings out a different aspect of this truth.
- Let’s unpack this idea of being the “body of Christ” so that we have a clearer idea of what’s expected of us.
1. THIS IS NOT THE BACKUP PLAN.
- Sometimes the only thing we seem to do regarding the church is apologize.
- Now, believe me, I am fully aware that the church has manifold shortcomings. I know it often pushes people away from God rather toward Him. I know we don’t embody Christ’s teaching as well as we should.
- But there’s another truth that we seem to ignore: this is God’s plan. This is Plan A.
- Jesus didn’t get to the end of His ministry and come to the time of His ascension and God the Father thought, “Oh no, now are what are we going to do?!?! Well, how about if we try to work through the believers?” It wasn’t a last-minute throw-together.
- No, that God would shine into this world through us was the plan all along. That’s why Jesus invested so much time in His disciples. It’s why the Holy Spirit came after the ascension. It’s why the church was formed.
- It’s time for us to quit thinking of the church as something to apologize for and time to start living out what God intended: that we would be living representatives of Christ in a way that brings glory to Christ.
- God’s intent is to make you into a person who can be a great representative of Christ.
- We are to be “the fullness” of Christ (v. 24).
- Note the wording at the beginning of v. 23 that speaks of the authority of Christ.
- That brings out the idea that the church is not be a weak, pathetic husk of a shadow of God, but a powerful, mighty force.
- One of the verses I thought of was John 14:12, where Jesus speaks of us doing “greater things” than He did.
- That verse has always remained somewhat of a mystery to me. I think there’s a truth there that I haven’t fully comprehended yet.
- One thought that comes to mind, though, as we speak about this idea of us being the “body of Christ” is the vision of a billion people around the world living passionately for Christ. Whereas Jesus was one person, albeit a mighty and impressive one, through the church we can have a representative of Christ in a billion places. That’s an amazing thought.
- I don’t think that’s a full explanation of that verse, but it is part of it, I think.
- Note the presence of the phrase “the fullness of Christ.”
2. TO REACH "THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST" THE PASTOR NEEDS TO BE BUSY EQUIPPING AND THE PEOPLE NEED TO BE BUSY SERVING.
- The role of the pastor is to teach the truth in order to “build up” the church. Then the church is to step forward to serve.
- The idea of “prepare God’s people for works of service” has to do with knowing the truth so that you can serve well, knowing the truth about Christ and your place in His Kingdom. It speaks in v. 13 about God’s people becoming mature.