Missing Limb - Reflections On Our Mutual Need For One Another In The Body of Christ
Throughout the week I was thinking through some tough parenting things, and also watching others go through similar struggles, and I realized that we make life much harder than it needs to be. How? Why would we, why would I do that? Life is already hard enough. You see it was made harder, because I wasn't reaching out. I was choosing to stay in my struggle alone.
Here I am at an amazing church filled with godly people that know God's word and are equipped to help, and I'm sitting in my home trying to figure it all out on my own. God provided me, in the church, with people that love me and are equipped by knowledge and experiences to help, and yet I'm trying to act as if I'm solely an individual, rather than a part of the body of Christ. I have God's word and I was reading it regularly and attending church and Equipping Hour (Sunday School), but I was missing out on the blessing of seeking the counsel and support of the family of God. By God's grace He has given us one another and while it starts on Sunday, it doesn't end on Sunday.
First of all, if we are not there on Sundays we are missing out on God's grace through others towards us, we are missing out on being a blessing and being blessed by His word and our church family. If you're feeling a need for counsel, for encouragement, for support, the Church is meant to help. If you're feeling listless, purposeless, or apathetic, then you ought to express your devotion to God through service and encouragement of His Body. This is His people, and those in our local church are the ones He has purposefully and specially chosen for us. Not by accident, on purpose. We also have been blessed with many opportunities to be together throughout the week such as; Equipping Hour, Heart 2 Heart (moms), Park Days (Ladies), the Men's Groups, Life Groups, service opportunities, Fellowship Meals, Pot Lucks, group evangelism, meeting in our homes, and many more.
In my Equipping Hour class we were discussing the following verses:
1 Corinthians 12:26-27 ESV
26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
How can we suffer alongside someone suffering if we don't know what they're going through, if we're not with them? How can we honor someone else for the gifts God has given them, their service, or their participation in God's sanctifying work in their life? How can we rejoice in the blessings and mercies of God with another believer if, at most, you talk with them for 2-5 minutes every few weeks? A piece of a physical body separated from the rest doesn't survive. How can the local manifestation of the Body and Bride of Christ survive if members are experiencing the equivalent of a long-distance relationship? When we are saved we are immediately a part of a larger community. We are brought into the Body of Christ, and therefore into our local church.
And Ephisians 4:7-16 ESV
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." 9 (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The context of these verses is spiritual gifts and the purpose of them is to equip the church so we may be "built up in love" and "not tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine." And as I heard in my Equipping class, "if we are not together, it is hard to do the "one anothers". (Thinking of 1 Corinthians 12.) Much more could be said about the passage in Ephesians 4, but I'll focus on answering one question. When does the Body of Christ grow in love or, as the verse says, into the head (or source), Christ? The body grows when it is held together by the joints that Christ has equipped it with (perhaps the roles/offices mentioned in verse 11), and when each part is working properly. In other words, when we work properly together by each person showing up and using their gifts, we grow in love and Christlikeness. If there are missing body parts, then the Body of Christ won't grow as it should (1 Corinthians 12). We get to experience the varied graces of God in different ways because we're experiencing them through the lives and work and gifts of very different people that God has rescued and is renewing. And in many ways, we owe it to each other to be "working properly", engaging in prayer, the Word, and the life of the Body.
Are you working properly? Am I working properly? Am I a missing limb? Are you?
We have gifts and we miss out on those gifts when we don't prioritize church or one another. There are so many things we are dealing with that can be helped by one another. We individually do not have to have it all together or know it all. Isn't God good in that He designed us to need one another?
So let us obey the command to "consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.", Hebrews 10:24-25
We need you! We need each other. See you this Sunday!
Resource for this subject
- "Your Local Church and Why It Matters" by John Macarthur, found in the church lobby or at gty.org