“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:1-8 NIV).
What is the Church? No really, I want you to think about what the church is. I’m sure you have heard it said that it is not the buildings you meet in to have worship. It’s not even necessarily the denomination that your church belongs to. I’m not asking you to think of the Church even from your perspective. Let go of your ideas and try to view what the Church is from Jesus’ perspective. Let’s not try to see it from where we stand in it, but from where Jesus is at its head. Let’s see it through Jesus’s eyes. View it from its head down through its connecting Holy Spirit. Down past its neck to its chest and out to its arms and fingers. Down past its belly to its legs and down to its feet.
Can you see the 12 that walked with Jesus? Can you see the women at the tomb that first morning? Can you see the first century (Acts 2:42) church? Can you see the great theologians, like Augustine and Chrysostom in the first few centuries? Can you see the Church east and west? Can you see those who fought for the church and shaped it like Luther and Wesley? Can you see multiple denominations of true Christians? Can you see those who lead the denominations? Can you see; the missionaries, the preachers, the teachers, the workers, the givers, the servers, the encouragers, and can you see you? Can you see the Church how Jesus sees it?
Can you see how we all connect yet are different, work together, and belong to each other? The Church is not one place or even one organization in time. In fact, I do not believe it is even only in one time. We stand on the shoulders of those who were before us. The church is a living, breathing and acting organism not a place or thing, and you are a part of it whenever and where-ever you are.
We are called to be a “living sacrifice,” meaning alive we give life to the church. As we act, do, live into the gifts, and live by the Spirit, the church lives, breathes, acts and moves from one generation to the next. But, if we do not live by the Spirit and use the specific gifts God has given to each and every one of us, or we think more highly of ourselves then we should; the connection to the head and, the Spirit, is stopped. It is cut off and that part of the body withers and dies.
I know that is hard to say, but both the good and the bad are all here to see in these passages. Either we are living through our lives in the Spirit and our gifts, or we are stopping up the works. Even Jesus himself said it in John chapter 15, He is the Vine and we only live and produce fruit through staying connected to Him. I’m sure we have all seen the lone Christian saying, “I don’t believe in organized religion” or “I don’t need to go to church to know God.” That lone Christian may still be alive in this world, but in reality they are withering, and you know this because they have no fruit. Well here is something even more radical, there are whole churches with no fruit too. They too are just existing in this world, but not really alive.
So, how is your church and how are you? Are you connected and living in your gifts through the Spirit connected to the church and it’s head Jesus, or are you just existing? If not, how can you reconnect, or find out what your gifts are?
How many arms and legs does the Body of Christ have, just two like our bodies or maybe as many as Jesus needs?