To belong to Christ is to belong to his body, which is the church. Just as any body part can not survive without the other body parts, a person cannot follow Jesus purely on their own. We all have a role to play in this body and no part is worthless. Finding your place and function is important to belonging to the body of Christ.
In 1st Corinthians, we learn that Jesus has a second body. That body is comprised of every believer in Jesus, and this second body is Jesus’ outreach to the world. It is important to remember this understanding of Jesus’ body is corporate and not individualistic. Individually we are part of the body, just as a finger is part of the hand which is part of the body. It is our togetherness as believers that make the body function better. Just as a finger can’t work without a wrist, so believers cannot function well without other believers.
There are two important implications to this teaching. The first is that to belong to Christ is to belong to his corporate body. The second is that we all have a role to play in the body of Christ. These two implications show us a metaphor of belonging to the Kingdom of God and having a function within the Kingdom.
When we belong to Christ, we belong to his corporate body. It is very easy in this culture to see our faith and actions in an individualistic manner. Whether it is salvation or our actions, we can often see it in the lens of the I. However, the Bible talks much differently than this individualistic lifestyle that we live today. The Bible is full of we talk, but in our daily walk, it mostly revolves around the individual.
This can be due to the criticism of organized church. Whether it’s people that have been hurt by church or rituals that are not understood, organized church has a bad reputation in this world. Yet, the Bible doesn’t separate people from community. People that believe in Jesus, but are not corporately “plugged-in”, stand in contrast to the Bible’s teaching on community and being part of the body.
In the metaphor of the body, a finger does not function as a finger if it is separated from the hand. A toe doesn’t function as a toe if it is separated from the foot. It is the same for an ear that is separated from the head. In the same way, a believer who is not a part of some community doesn’t function as they should as a believer in Jesus.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go to church on Sunday morning. Community is interacting in life-changing ways with other Christians, and that doesn’t always happen on Sunday mornings. Rather, Jesus says that where two or more are gathered, that is community. Community requires concrete attachment of two or more believers.
We all have a role to play in this body. If a body is made up of all ears, then it won’t function well, if at all. An ear can’t digest food or grasp things or pump blood to the rest of the body. Everyone who is a part of the body of Christ has a gift that should be utilized for the body.
Someone who is a part of the body of Christ carries a function and should play out that function. To not use the gift that God gave you is to stand in contrast to the biblical model of community. It cannot be separated. If a foot doesn’t function, the body has trouble walking. If a hand doesn’t work, the body can’t grasp things. If we choose not to use our gifts for the body of Christ, then we hinder the body.
God says you have a role and a gift to bring to the body, and any thought that says otherwise is a lie. It can be easy to be tripped up by these lies, and everyone gets tripped up as they go through life. Prestige can stand in the way of using our gifts. It can be easy to believe that people who paint the walls of a church have less worth than the preacher speaking the message. People who clean the bathrooms aren’t as important as the worship leader. These thoughts are lies. Every part of the body has a function, and the body requires every part to function as it should to be effective.
Learning your function in the body requires some trial and error. There are some things that have a learning curve to them. Try different functions and learn from your mistakes. If you don’t have a calling from God, try different things within the body until you find something that fits well with you. And it may be that three years later, you might be called to something else. The important point is to step up and being functioning as part of the body.
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