9-13-15 THE BODY
September 13, 2015
As all of our readings for today* have pointed out, the church is the Body of Christ. And the true believers are the church. Not those whose names are on the church roster, but those who truly have faith in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and have entrusted Him with their lives here and in eternity. Every church is going to have some chaff along with the wheat, but we will save that for another sermon.
The first thing we must remember as the body of Christ, is that He is the head of the body. And what happens to a body that has no head? Exactly! Without Christ as our head, we have no life. We are nothing more than a dead body. A corpse. Good for nothing and ready to be buried. And many a church has died because it did not have Christ as the head.
And not only must Christ be the head, but the members of the body must all be subject to that head. If your brain can't send signals properly to the other parts of your body, then your body becomes either paralyzed or dysfunctional. What does a paralyzed church look like? It becomes stiff and rigid, unwelcoming, and cold. The members because frozen, their prayers meaningless words, their praises bouncing off stone walls and never reaching heaven. Or if it becomes dysfunctional, it doesn't work properly. It doesn't do what it is supposed to do. The members work against each other, one member undermining the efforts of another, and none being able to function in the way that they were meant to. A body in chaos cannot reach souls for Christ. In fact, it will do just the opposite. No one wants to be part of a dysfunctional body. So the first thing we must do as a church, is make sure to put Christ as the head and put God's will above our own.
Having established the head, let us move on to the parts. Each of us has a calling as a specific part of the body. Do each of you know in your heart what you have been called to do within the body?
I remember a couple of times when Randy wasn't able to be at church and I was asked to play the piano. I took accordion lessons as a child, and I can read music. But playing the piano is not my calling. And those couple of times that I filled in for Randy, it was very evident that it is not my calling! But on the other hand, if I asked Randy to fill in for me for a Sunday or two, I have no doubt that he would be able. But it is not, at least at present, his calling. And I am sure he would struggle with it the same way that I did when I filled in for him.
We are all called to complement each other the way the parts of our physical body parts complement each other and work together as a whole. Some of us are better with children than others. Some of us can bake. Some of us are good at organizing. Some are good at leading and inspiring others. Some have beautiful singing voices and others have varied talents. Our personalities differ as well - and we need them all! Those who are quiet and reflective. Those who are friendly and outgoing. Those who are intelligent and wise. Those who are simple and innocent. Each type serves a purpose within the church. We should never, ever think we are better and more important than another - and likewise we should never, ever think we are worse or less important than another. The pastor is not more important than the kind soul who brings donuts or cookies for after the service. And the person who serves as liturgist is not more important than the one who greets those who come through the door.
And what if one part decides it wants to separate itself from the body? Or if that part becomes unhealthy and can no longer function properly? Think of how someone that becomes an amputee, or becomes blind or deaf, must overcompensate with other limbs or senses. So it is within the church. Each of us must be willing to serve Christ as He has called us to serve within His body. If we either will not or cannot, the body will first try desperately to restore that part (or at least it should!). If a member is struggling, either physically or spiritually, it is our responsibility to first of all pray for them, but also to do everything possible as the Lord directs us to work towards their healing.
And I am sure you have all heard of autoimmune diseases. If you are unfortunate enough to have one of these, your body's immune system, which is designed to protect against outside invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, attacks the body's own tissues instead. I researched this a bit online, and found something interesting. On MedicineNet.com it says "Autoimmune diseases are more frequent in women than in men. It is felt that the estrogen of females may influence the immune system to predispose some women to autoimmune diseases." Now before all of the women sitting here attack me, let's just say that maybe we (myself included) need to keep our emotions in check and not attack the church body. We get attacked enough from outside the body! The same website also said that, "Furthermore, the presence of one autoimmune disease increases the chance for developing another simultaneous autoimmune disease." How true this is in the church as well. Once we start attacking each other, the disease spreads and pretty soon no part is safe. We need to recognize the symptoms, halt the spread, and restore the infected parts of the body.
So, going forward, let's work on strengthening the body. Let's make sure every part is fed properly, with the Word of God and with encouragement and kindness. Let's make sure every part exercises regularly, with prayer and service to the Lord. And let's make sure every part remains a functional part of the body through regular church attendance, and healing when necessary.
Remember, we are Christ's body in this world. If we are dead, or dysfunctional, or diseased, how can we be of any use to a world that so desperately needs Christ's love, and forgiveness, and salvation? I pray the Lord would help us to heal, to grow, and to be all that He needs us to be. Amen.
*Mark 9:33-35, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27