Monday, June 23, 2014

Called Out...With Purpose (1 of 2)

Last week's blogs provided a rather extended introductory look at this series on church membership. This week's entries will focus on our need to be purposeful - to function - as members.

Jesus words in Matthew 16.18 that He would build His church indicates labor is involved. And the workers are us. But God has showed us the way (Matthew 4.19), has told us what to do (Matthew 28.19-20), and promised to be with us as we do His work for the Kingdom (Matthew 28.20). Yet, the beginning of the church was truly after His resurrection. As such, Jesus said little about the church directly. So this week we look to Paul to get some practical insights for how to function.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is trying to provide instruction and encouragement to a church which had great issues of trust. In the later chapters (12-14), he begins to deal with the idea of spiritual gifts. Each Christian has at least one spiritual gift that is to be used for the common good (12.7). While there are many different types of gifts, each is important to fulfill the mission Christ has given us (plural) as a church. Paul then continues by speaking of various parts of the body. Ultimately, His point is that no one part of a body is independent of all others parts. Therefore, no one part of the body can say it is the most important. This is not to say that there should not be leaders, but 1) any leader in the church is subject to the true leader - Jesus, and 2) biblical leadership is not about tyranny, it is about service.

As a church, each member is a part of the body of Christ - and therefore important. When members choose not to participate in the work of the church (the Kingdom), the rest of the body suffers. Certainly, just like with our physical bodies, when one part isn't functioning (or functioning well), the rest of the body compensates, but this isn't how God designed our bodies - or His church. Yet, just as sin brought illness and disability to our fleshly bodies, so sin corrupts the spiritual body of the church as well.

So, each member is called to use the gift(s) they have received. But is that enough? No. In Part 2 for this week, we will see that it is not just that we are to serve, but also how we serve that matters.

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