“God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:18, 24-27
I’m betting that you’re like me in that, from time to time, you have to stop and marvel because you’re struck by how absolutely stunning the human body is. It’s a wonder of the world! God’s genius is displayed in all of creation, and the human body is a pretty magnificent demonstration of that genius all by itself. Each of us pilots one every day, but we have only just begun to understand how and why it works the way it does.
I’m so glad the apostle Paul compared the Church to a body because it gives us pause to consider how magnificently the Church has been designed to be the expression of Christ’s mind and will in the world. Just as the human body is complex and can only function optimally when all of its various parts optimally function in their roles, so it is in the Body of Christ. Each part matters and each part has an important job to do as determined by the Creator.
Disciple, one of the most important things you can do to move forward in your primary goal of becoming like Jesus is to learn from Him how to properly value and serve His Church. Not only were the New Testament Scriptures written by the Church and for the Church, they were written about the Church. I beg you, do not let your experiences or the experiences of others shape your vision of who or what the Church is. Rather, let the One who put His body together show you His breathtakingly beautiful vision of who and what it is to be.
One of the greatest transitions modern Western disciples of Jesus must make in order to experience the full Kingdom life is from thinking and living that is individualistic to that which is focused on community. From the very beginning, Jesus has had His disciples share life together. He didn’t call one disciple, work one-on-one with that one, then move onto another one-on-one relationship with another disciple. No, He had many disciples following Him around Judea, Samaria, and Galilee all together. They traveled, ate, learned, discussed, and rested together. Each one of them had to learn to belong to all the others in a new and powerful way.
Whatever your views of the greater Church, and whatever your involvement might be in a local church, you can know that, as someone who has been baptized into Christ and filled with His Spirit, you are a part of the Church. In all of her glorious strengths and shameful weaknesses, you are a part of her. You’ve been gifted by Her Master and Redeemer with the expressed purpose of making her more like she’s supposed to be. And, as difficult as it can be, loving and serving the imperfect Church means loving and serving the imperfect individuals that comprise her.
Love your Master by loving the bride, the flock, the temple, the body, the household – the Church – that He loves. As you do, know that He is pleased, and that He considers that love and service as personally offered to Him (see Matthew 25:31-46).
Loving the Master by loving His body,Ryan