The Body Christ – September 17th, 2018

The Body Christ

Christianity is to be practiced in a community. We can’t effectively function as being ‘Christ-like’ entities, if we choose to isolate ourselves from the world and each other.

Let’s consider Jesus, His Body, His Church, Our Assembly of that Church, Our Community, and the World Community at large… Read on!

Note from Kip…

We have a lot to cover today, but I think we can move through this rather quickly regardless. We often don’t think of our impact on things being very significant at all. This is especially true of the world stage.

The fact of the matter is that if we don’t make a difference, there will be no difference made. If every individual took the position that their contribution to the whole were insignificant, then the whole would be insignificant.  We are not just filler in the communities we are a part of. We are critical elements of the structure. Without our contribution to the image there are granules of color lost to the artistry and the very possibility that canvas will be rendered common place or even scrap.

Francis Chan likes to use the term ‘messy’.  I enjoy greatly Francis and his teaching, so when I was considering this topic it hit me that what we are really focused in on today is a Glorious Mess. Because functioning in a community can and should be a little messy. There are things that will cause us to pause and wonder why, there are things that just don’t seem to belong, there are things that we must overcome, and there are things that bond us together. It’s all messy.

To the point of this article, I want to take a look at the Christian and our place in the Body of Christ, His Church, Our Local Church, Our Community, the World Community at large, and just how Christ in Us dictates our contribution to these.

I’ll tell you up front, our worldview of this needs to encompass all of this and we must be engaged as the light in a dark world.  We need to become The Body Christ.

We will start with the broad topic of the Body and then narrow it into specific communities and how we need to interact with those communities.

The very word ‘gospel’ comes from the greek word ‘evangelion’, meaning “good news”. It looks a lot like evangelism doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Evangelism is the spreading of the ‘Good News’ regarding the gift of salvation afforded to us through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, His burial, resurrection, the recognition of His place of authority over all things, and His plan to unit with His Bride which is The Church and is comprised of the granules called you and I.

In the second century the first for books of the Bible which are a written record of the the life and times of Jesus Christ became known as ‘The Four Gospels’. These collectively along with portions of the book of Acts can effectively be consider the physical Gospel of Jesus Christ or simply ‘The Gospel’.

However, as it is the ‘Good News’ regarding Christ Jesus, the news is continuing to this day, it continues beyond this day and to the day when Christ comes to claim His Bride, The Church. As members of His Church, we have a part to play in telling that story. In fact we are a very part of that story as the central act of Jesus was to save us from impending eternal death. His act of Grace that saved us and His Spirit living in us is part of His-Story, the Good News, The Gospel.

I’ve gone through all of this for one purpose only. That is to point out that news, especially good news, is to be shared with others. The passage you’ll find most in my articles is Matthew 28:19-20.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (CSB)

His Gospel is active and alive today, living within us. It is imperative that we share this Good News to all humanity, and that starts and ends with community. We simply can’t function as effective Christians without community.

The Body of Christ

The first community we want to look at is just what the Body of Christ is.

Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.

Romans 12:4-5 (CSB)

We became part of this body by placing our faith and hope in the Blood of Jesus.  At that point, the Holy Spirit came to take the lead in guiding us on our path. It is the bonding of the Spirit which makes us a community and consequently members of Christ’s Body, The Church.

For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body — so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Indeed, the body is not one part but many.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (CSB)

We often think of our faith in centralized terms. Many will say that their faith is very personal and private, others may consider that their local church is The Church and there just isn’t another church that really encompasses their faith.

The reality is that our first and foremost function is to be part of this grander body that is The Church. This is not restricted to a particular denomination, country or people. It is all the people who have entrusted their lives in Jesus Christ and depend on His Grace for the forgiveness of their sins and the redemption of their spirit.

Those would attempt to divide us from each other, are trying to tear away at the body and render it less useful to Christ Jesus.  All doctrinal issues aside, if the Gospel message has resulted in the salvation of an individual by Grace through Faith, that individual becomes a key part of the Body of Christ.

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head — Christ. From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Ephesians 4:15-16 (CSB)

It is for us to build up this body, not to tear it down. Dogma is useful but only if it is used to build up not tear down the Body of Christ. Our differences in application, are not nearly as critical as our understanding of interpretation.

The Word of God is true and faithful, and there is no ambiguity surrounding it concerning the pinnacles of our faith.

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 (CSB)

The pinnacles that I spoke of are the fact that:

A. God Created all things and breathed life into humanity
B. Man sinned, causing separation between God and man
C. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, God in the flesh
D. Christ was born of a virgin
E. Lived among us
F. Became the fulfillment of all prophesy concerning Himself
G. Was subjected to toucher and death as punishment for our sins
H. Was buried
I. Three days after arose victorious over sin and death.
J. Dispensing Grace for all who would trust in His sacrifice
K. Ascended into Heaven after being seen in his resurrected body my numerous groups and individuals.
L. Has promised that He will return for His Bride, The Church

These truths are unmistakable and unchangeable.

Division in The Body of Christ goes far beyond counterproductive. It fights against the mission of that body to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations“. This is the function of The Body and every member of it.

Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:14-15 (CSB)

In a word, it happens with ‘community’.

Our Local Church

Ever hear someone say that churches are just buildings, man-made organizations and social groups, that serve no purpose that can’t be fulfilled by worship and devotion in private?

I have heard that. I have said that in the past. There was a point in my life when I was trying to escape God’s hand. I was running. I wanted to benefit from all of the beauty of Grace without participating in what Grace calls us to.

When I surrendered to Jesus and turned control over to Him, that all changed in a moment. The local church became the focal point of my faith and the launch site of my growth and my closest connection to The Body of Christ.

People that say that churches are nothing more than social orders have no understanding of the power of assembly. When we bring members of the Body of Christ together we bring fellowship of the Holy Spirit in us with all those assembled with us.

The collective force of this Spirit in a local setting, can and should propel that local church, into ministry for the local community, the state, the nation, and the world.

Each local body of believers provide a framework where we can collectively worship, study, teach, provide support, and growth; within the church and to all communities that the local church impacts.

The Gospel itself defines the crucial need for the community of the local church every time Jesus commands us to do for others or intwines our involvement in others. Where is the best place to find others? In the body of believers in the local church.  It is from that body and it’s combined resources that that church can provide support, coordination, encouragement, to reach the ‘others’ in the local community.

And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB)

This provoking of ‘good works’ can’t happen when we are in isolation away from the body. The local church is the springboard for all outreach.

This happens with the community.

Our Local Community

We touched a bit on local community outreach as a function of the local church. Actually, this isn’t an action limited to the local church as a body. It falls to us as well to make an outreach to the community as well at the same time.

We are going to see this again with the World Community as well.

The fullness of the mission will involve both the individual and their church to effectively reach the local community.

Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8-9 (CSB)

The word ‘Others’ puts an imperative on involvement in the local community. Every time the Word say one another, others, or go, it involved getting out into the local community and being that image of Christ for those ‘others’ to see.

We do this without thinking about it, and my concern is exactly that issue. If we do it and don’t think about what we are doing, saying, or the way we conduct ourselves, then we cast a shadow who we represent as Christians, Christ Jesus.

Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:14-15 (CSB)

There is that ‘one body’ thing again!

If we are putting on the love of Jesus, as we are out in the local community, would it change the way we approach things? Can you say that you’re cognizant of Christ’s Spirit living in you as you encounter people and transact your business day to day? Every day? All day? Consistently?

Do we project an image of Christ that is representative of Jesus?  Or is it ‘self; that we project along with all those self-motivations, objectives, biases, and justifications?

We are in this community and as we are in it we either are projecting Jesus and His Gospel or we are projecting self. It’s about that simple. There isn’t really a neutral approach as lack of engagement is pure apathy.

Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.

Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:13-18 (CSB)

Are these the attributes we display to the local community?  Does our interaction with the local community define us as those who belong to Jesus?

Are we acting on behalf of the Body of Christ or are we acting on self-based motives?

It is, after all, a local community.

The World Community at large

Let me repeat this one more time.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (CSB)

The great commission put a directive down for us not to limit our ‘others’ to just the local community. We are not going to be able to “make disciples of all nations” if we remain exclusively focused locally.

We need to be involved in supporting the efforts of the greater Body of Christ through our individual actions.

Contributions of our time, money and resources to global outreach.

Personally to me one of the most beautiful expressions of this is Operation Christmas Child facilitated by Samaritans Purse.  This can be done as an individual but when the local church does it together there exists an opportunity for numerous people to join in to exercise our directive to go to all nations.

We provide something for someone who has little at a time of year that we celebrate the Gift of God all in a shoebox. The physical content of the boxes include toys, utility items, notes, and necessities. But what is really in those boxes is an opportunity to introduce Jesus to someone who likely has never heard before.

Stories come out of Operation Christmas Child that demonstrate changed lives! And this is such a simple way to reach out to the world.

Our donations to missions is another important action that all can participate in. While we may not be able to jump on a plane and fly to far off reaches to spread the Gospel of Jesus, we can have a part in spreading that Gospel through financial or physical support, be that great or small.

Short term missions are also beneficial to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Our support or participation either or both can be furthering the reach of the Gospel.

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles to bring salvation to the end of the earth.”

Acts 13:47 (CSB)

All the earth is our community as well.

We are the Body

We are The Body. We are The Church. We need to be a member of the local church, the local community, and the world community.  The individual parts of the body can not remain living and vital very long apart from the body.  We can not function as Christians without The Body.

Blessings,
kip…


 

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