Life within the body of Christ. It seems to mean so many different things to people. For many, the church is simply a social gathering of like minded folks and they participate in it so long as there is nothing better to do. For others, church is a place/activity that they attend, hoping to be uplifted and better prepared for the week ahead, and if it does not accomplish that, they will move on to another place in hope that it will meet their needs. And for still others, the church is an opportunity to get to know God better and to serve and worship him alongside other believers.
For the most part I see myself falling into the third group, and yet I believe that even that falls short of what we should be. There are several passages in Paul’s writings that discuss spiritual gifts, one of them being in the 12th chapter of Romans. And in this passage is tucked away a little expression that has recently jumped out at me and is making me take stock again of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:4-5 NIV
I generally think that I belong to Christ, serve him, and am answerable to him. If I fall short, if I fail to serve effectively, if for a while I just sit on the sidelines, it is just a matter between God and myself; it is me that ultimately suffers. But is that really the case. Romans 12:5 says that as a member of the body, I belong to all of the other members. I do not belong just to Christ, the head of the body; I belong to every other member as well.
Think about that for a moment. If I belong to you, fellow body part, then I have an obligation to you; to serve you. I have been placed in the body, not where I want to serve, but where God wants me to be, to perform a particular function within the body. If I, along with all the other body parts, perform our functions well, then the body is healthy. If I do not, then I am hurting the body, I am hurting you.
I know that oftentimes I do not take my responsibility to my fellow body parts seriously enough, being more concerned about myself than I am you; caring more about how I am feeling or how people are responding to me. But when I feel like I am not being fed, appreciated, nurtured, growing or fulfilled, is it possible that I am the problem rather than the preacher, the S.S. teacher, the worship leader or the leader of the men’s ministry? If I was to turn my focus from how you are not meeting my needs, to how I can meet yours, then just maybe I would find joy and fulfillment, serving as that body part that God has made me to be.
Please forgive me for those times I have failed you by not doing my best for you. Please help me to know how to more effectively serve you within the body.