Let’s face it – 2020 has been a strange year.
But God was not surprised by all the events that have happened.
Would you join me in a four-week countdown to Thanksgiving?
When we stop for a moment, we realize we have much to be thankful for.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.(Romans 12:3-8, English Standard Version)
I am thankful for the local church today. Specifically, I am thankful for Jesus instituting the local church, and for the people who serve the Lord and make up the local church.
In today’s text, the Apostle Paul uses the human body as an illustration of how the local church is to function. Each part has a function, and does so to the good of itself and to the other members of the body.
Notice that the body parts are not in-dependent – they do not function separated and on their own. They are not an island unto themselves.
The body parts are also no co-dependent – they do consume all of their resources and also the resources of all the body parts they are connected to, for their good only, and giving nothing in return.
Rather, the body parts are inter-dependent – they function in cooperation with one another, supplying good to others and being supplied by others.
And so it is with us in the local church. God has called each one of us to be present and to add meaningful value to the good of the local body, and in turn, being blessed and strengthened by others.
Hmmm… let me think about this… since Jesus is in charge of the church, as the head, the one we all answer to, then that means that the church does not exist for me, but rather, the church exists for the glory of God, and I get to be part of that story, that work, that mission, that adventure.
That also means that I have a part, a responsibility, a calling to fulfill for the glory of God and the good of others. And when others fulfill their calling, I benefit and am blessed from their function in the body of Christ.
May this paraphrase speak to your heart today:
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.(Romans 12:3-8, The Message Translation)
4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Lord, thank You for creating us and giving us purpose and meaning in this life. Thank You, Lord, for helping us see and understand our roles in the larger story of what You have done throughout history, what You are doing now in our lifetimes, and the promise of what You will do in eternity.
Lord, thank You for making us inter-dependent with You, and with each other. Lord, I am nothing apart from You. Thank You for making me in Your image, for allowing me to bless others and to be blessed by doing what You have called them to do.
Lord, help me to walk humbly with You, to be faithful to what You have called me to be and to do, for Your glory and the good of others. And thank You that we get to live out this life in community, in the context of the local church, along side others who are serving and loving You.
Learning to be faithful to what I am called to be and to do –
for God’s glory and the good of others,