1 Corinthians 12: 12-31
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
As individuals, we tend to take our bodies for granted. We do not think about how the various parts of the human body are interdependent- that is they work together and allow us through our senses to experience the joy of life. If you could only see a play and not hear the dialogue, would you not have missed a huge part of the experience?
Few of us get up in the morning thinking about how are circulation system works. It just does and we are grateful. We only begin to think about our individual bodies when they begin to break down on us and we need to adjust to restrictions these new physical limitations place on our freedom to act.
It is the same for families and larger communities like towns or countries. As individuals we smell, talk, think, look and act differently to each other. Our trouble begins when more then one of us has to share the same room. This might be a husband and wife who are sharing a lifelong covenant with each other- for better or worse. It could be a young brother and sister who really had no choice in the selection of their parents or siblings for that matter. When you become a community of individuals, all of whom think and respond differently, your bound to run into tension between members about how to share that room, be it a kitchen, country, community or idea.
It was the same in the early Church. The early Christian converts heard the message of Jesus’ Gospel spoken by Paul and they struggled to live its truth in unity with each other’s diversity.
Some Christians seemed to believe (and some still do) that being part of the Church is an individual matter and is not essentially bound to life with others.
This is such a shame because God has made us all special and of infinite value, and urges us to share our gifts and talents with those around us.
Being part of any community isn’t easy. It does need some effort and some work, all relationships do.
Let’s remember that the church is not a building; it is not a program; it is not an institutional bureaucracy. The church is people in relationship, it’s a family—It’s us struggling to live in community with each other, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out the life of Jesus in and for the world today.
If our building or our community were to disappear tomorrow, the living Body of Jesus Christ, his church would carry on. You and I would be there striving to do our part because we know that our Unity in Christ is enough to sustain all of our human failings and predicaments. It is not fickle, faddish, or popular. It gives us the strength to share our talents and join in with the work of Christ in the world. That’s what we’re here for—to be the body of Christ—his hands and feet in a fractured world, working to make all things new.
So, something to think about…….
What does it mean for you to be part of the Body of Christ?
The truth is you are unique; and uniquely gifted to play a part in the work of this church family and we’re not the same without you!—What part can you play as we seek to grow closer together and reach out to a world in need?
But now, in King Jesus, you have been brought near in the king’s blood—yes, you, who used to be a long way away! He is our peace, you see. He has made the two to be one. He has pulled down the barrier, the dividing wall, that turns us into enemies of each other. He has done this in his flesh, by abolishing the law with its commands and instructions.
The point of doing all this was to create, in him, one new human being out of the two, so making peace. God was reconciling both of us to himself in a single body, through the cross, by killing the enmity in him.
He has pulled down the barrier, the dividing wall, that turns us into enemies of each other
Wow! Creating one new human being out of two (Jews and Gentiles in the context of Ephesians). One new human family, a forever family, created by King Jesus when people find their allegiance in Him rather than in the earthly families or realities to which many align themselves.
An older Christian I know well describes a scene when, back in the 1970s, he was invited to attend a small group hosted by a couple named Bob and Win. It was a time when many young people (who are now much older) were dissatisfied with the established church and were looking for something else. Bob and Win invited them to their house for Bible study.
Forever Family. That was the name of the group. These wandering souls had found something new: a gathering of people who focused their allegiance around Jesus Christ and then tried to live this out in a community of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
It was a family; it was a ‘forever family’ because these people found that their earthly family boundaries were much bigger when you have a group of people now identified by their allegiance to their mutual Father in heaven.
Here’s some more of chapter 2 (verses 17 to 22):
So the Messiah came and gave the good news. Peace had come! Peace, that is, for those of you who were a long way away, and peace, too, for those who were close at hand. Through him, you see, we both have access to the father in the one spirit. This is the result. You are no longer foreigners or strangers. No: you are fellow-citizens with God’s holy people. You are members of God’s household. You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with King Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building is fitted together, and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. You, too, are being built up together, in him, into a place where God will live by the spirit.
The New Testament book of Ephesians then gives us a real insight into what church was always supposed to be, a family; a movement rather than an institution.
One of these people who was a part of that movement in the 1970s described herself: ‘I am a servant of Christ Jesus carefully disguised as a machine operator in a machine shop’. She knew her allegiance and her mission. Her allegiance was to Christ. Her mission was to her co-workers.
Fast forward to 2017. The ‘established church’ has been found lacking by many people. In our day, there are many who may identify with Jesus but won’t identify with any formal church gathering.
This is what ‘The Gathering’ is all about and what the church here in Netherthong and the wider Holme Valley is seeking to become.
God has now created a new entity called the ‘family of God’ in whom His Spirit dwells. As such, we are now identified as brothers and sisters of each other. We live a new way in line with what King Jesus teaches, knowing that he has put this new body together in a way that is to bring about God’s way of reconciliation in a fractured world. The world is different because of the way these people (and others like them) live their lives. They, too, want to break down divisions among people through the work of the King and His big family.
While I love my earthly family, I am closer to them because of our ‘new family’ status in Jesus. The political affiliations are irrelevant; the economic status is irrelevant; the ethnic differences are irrelevant. We are one new body,representing King Jesus in a deeply divided world.
In his book Simply Christian, Tom Wright describes the Christian family this way:
‘The early Christians did their best to live as an extended family, caring for each other in the way in which (in that world) extended families did. They called each other “brother” and “sister” and really meant it. They lived and prayed and thought like that: children of the same father, following the same older brother, sharing goods and resources where need arose. When they talked about “love,” that’s the main thing they meant: living as a single family, a mutually supporting community. The church must never forget that calling.’
Let’s work together to make that even more of a reality here in the Holme Valley in 2017! Let’s choose to gather together regularly, develop true community and make a difference to the world we live in!