1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
This truth is essential to the Church functioning as God intends. It is perhaps the foundation of the Cell Church Movement, which gave rise to the seminar I am now attending. I’m afraid the average Christian has very little personal awareness of this truth, and that is a major cause of the weakness of the Church today. We use the term, “the Body of Christ,” rather freely, but what gets overlooked is the phrase, “each one of you.” That doesn’t let anybody off the hook! The problem is, we tend to treat church like a club of some sort, joining one at our convenience and leaving at any little irritation, acting as a consumer rather than as an integral part. The whole discussion in this chapter makes it clear that each part, no matter how seemingly insignificant, impacts the whole. You may think your little fingers are unimportant, for example, but just ask someone who has lost theirs! Even if the lack of a particular part doesn’t prevent the operation of the whole, the loss is still felt. Understanding this truth would prevent the majority of casual absences for sure! Along with that is another truth that is proclaimed by these Coaching meetings: “Don’t go to church, be the Church.” That’s one place the “body” analogy breaks down, because the different parts of our physical bodies aren’t detachable, whereas the Church doesn’t cease to exist when the people aren’t assembled in one place. That’s a major problem with our terminology, speaking of the meeting place as “the church,” when actually it is just the place where the church assembles from time to time. Gathering together is important, as it says in Hebrews. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24) However, it is not meeting that makes us the Church, but abiding in Christ by faith.
As a pastor, this is of intense interest to me. I certainly desire good attendance in services; it’s much easier to preach to a full room than an empty one, and corporate worship is a special blessing. However, I am very aware that if the church members aren’t living as parts of the Body of Christ the other six days of the week, it ultimately makes very little difference whether they show up on Sundays. To be sure, it’s easy for me to have that awareness when I live in the church building! The danger is in giving the impression I am calling people to gather to me, rather than to gather to Christ. I want people to understand that they are members – body parts – of the Body of Christ, but I’ve got to see them that way as well. They aren’t going to mature spiritually very well if I see them as adjuncts to me. I’ve got to release them into their various callings, equipping them (Ephesians 4:12) for their various tasks but not trying to control or hang onto them. That can be hard! Over the 34 years we’ve been operating as a church I’ve baptized over 50 people and ministered to a lot more, but our current attendance is less than 10, and we’ve got another one moving away in November. It’s a platitude, but I’ve got to remember that the church belongs to Christ and not to me, and rejoice to do whatever He directs me to do by His Spirit.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank you for this conference, and for enabling me to put into notes what You’re directing me to share this afternoon. I pray that Your words through me would encourage all present, pointing them not to me but to You, so that together we may be the Body of Christ indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!