so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:5 (NIV)
To All The Others - Can you see what Paul does not say? Paul is comparing the congregation of the faithful to the physical body. He says that the various members of a physical body all belong to the one body. All the members are important to that one body. But when he applies this analogy to the congregation, he does not say that each person in the congregation belongs to the one “body” of the congregation. He says that each person in the congregation belongs to all the other people in the congregation. Unless there are other gift-operating people in the assembly, there is no “body” to belong to. The body is not something independent from the praxis of God-given gifts. You do not join a building or a denomination. You are grafted into a living, gift-operating, mutually interdependent assembly of followers. If you joined anything less than that, you just have a club membership that sometimes requires dues. God designed the church to work and every single person in the church is designed to work within that congregation. If church is boring, it’s probably because it isn’t working the way God intended.
Two important factors emerge. First, the only reason that this “body” exists at all is because each member of the body has a direct connection with Yeshua and a direct, secondary connection with every other follower of Yeshua. That’s what it means to be “in Christ.” We are in Christ insofar as we are participants in a life-giving relationship with Him and because of that relationship, we are connected with each other. That’s why the “church” is a lot smaller than the audience that sits in the pews on Sunday. The real church is vitally connected to Yeshua and demonstrates that connection by the love each member has for one another. There are no strangers in this congregation (in spite of the current fad of mega-somethings). The entire assembly is vitally connected – to Him and to each other.
Secondly, everyone brings something crucial to the table. There are no “professionals” when it comes to relationship with Christ and love for each other. The professional hierarchy is a man-made instrument for control of the “body”. There is only one head of the church and His name is Yeshua. The greatest threat to our version of church is allowing Yeshua to actually take over and be the Lord of the House. That means letting go of the controls – something we are terrified to do because we do not trust Him. Shame on us! Imagine what “church” would be like if it were the place where you were honored for your gift, encouraged to use it and embraced because of it. Imagine what would happen if you were surrounded by others who thrived when you were operating at 100% maximum productivity. Imagine how exciting it would be to belong to a community that was blessed by all that you did and that blessed you in return. That is church the way God intended! The great tragedy of modern ecclesiology is the separation of members from their gifts. This heresy leads directly to withering of the body. We all pay the price. The church is ineffective in its ministry and its testimony primarily because it does not revel in God’s gifts to people. Where God reigns in freedom, the contemporary “church” just pulls on the reigns. It’s time to break loose. There are no strangers in God’s house and that includes you! If you are not honored and loved for the way God made you, find an assembly where you are and go to work.
Topical Index: Transformation