The Body of Christ, pt 3 – Transcript
Welcome back to my ongoing study of the church. This is episode 11, “The Body of Christ,” part three.
In this episode, we think about how to consider one another in the body of Christ. Building up the body of christ requires open eyes, open hearts, and a little bit of imagination. We, of course, do not want to be gossips and busybodies. But Scripture commands us over 30 times to serve one another in various ways. When we carefully think about how to serve the body of Christ, we motivate others to love and good works.
The Church Needs to Assemble!
The church as a body needs to come together on a regular basis. We need to see ourselves as members of a Christian community. We’re not individuals serving God, but rather we are part of a bigger organization, a bigger organism. We are part of a body and, we shouldn’t — as the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 10, verses 24 and 25– abandon coming together.
The answer is not to forsake the body but rather to get together with the body and what we want to do is to consider one another — as he says in verse number 24. I need to think about how I can help my fellow brother and sister in Christ.
The Body of Christ Gets Together for Each Other
We come to church not for our own benefit. We come to church because we’re there to worship God first and foremost. But second, we are there for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And when we come together, we need to take some time to evaluate what the needs of our brothers and sisters are. To give some careful thought — some planning — as to how I can best serve my fellow Christians.
Here are a few things that you can keep in mind as you consider your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about the age demographics in the congregation. Is it mostly a younger congregation or an older one? Maybe there’s a balance between the two. What does each of those age brackets need in order to remain spiritually healthy? What do the young need, and what do the old need? Give that some thought.
Is there anyone sick in the body of Christ?
You might think about: is there anyone with chronic health problems in your congregation? Is there someone who just is always sick? Well, there’s an opportunity! Give some thought to how you can help that person.
Are there widows in the church?
If there are widows, do they have a family who’s looking after them? First Timothy chapter 5, verses 3 through 6 makes it very plain that (extended) family needs to take care of widows. And if there’s no (extended) family taking care of widows, that’s something we in the church can do. Give that some thought.
Are you praying for the sick in the church?
I know a lot of churches have lists of people who have made prayer requests. Are you keeping your own list? Are there folks who are sick physically, sick in your congregation, who need prayers?
Is there someone in the body of Christ who has fallen on hard times?
Maybe they’ve lost a job due to cutbacks at work or due to sickness. There’s a way we can certainly serve in emergency circumstances. It’s appropriate for the church to help brothers or sisters out like that. And we as individuals can also find opportunities to help them.
Are you helping the leaders of your church?
The Bible talks about how every congregation needs elders. Are you being supportive of those elders? Are you praying for them both privately and publicly? Are you striving to keep your life as clean as possible? Remember in Hebrews chapter 13 verse number 17, the writer of Hebrews says,
Obey those who rule over you and be submissive for they watch out for your souls as those who must give an account let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Elders have to give an account for your soul. Are you keeping your life clean so that you’re making their jobs easier? That’s a way that you can consider your leadership in your congregation.
Are you talking with your fellow members of the body beyond just exchanging pleasantries?
Do you talk with them just in terms of, “good morning, how (are) you doing? How’s your week been? The weather’s been really nice lately.” Are you just exchanging pleasantries?
Are you keeping yourself from gossip so that people can feel like they can come to you and confide in you? Are you confessing your trespasses to one another?
Are you making yourself available to assist those who are spiritually ailing in the body?
Is there someone who’s really struggling with sin? Are you available?
Is your own spiritual life in good order so that you can help such a person? You know Jesus talks about if you’ve got a plank in your eye, take it out before you try to help your brother with the speck in his eye. So get your own spiritual house in order so that you can help someone else.
We Need to Know Those in the Church!
It’s absolutely essential for a church to be filled with people who are aware of what’s going on in each other’s life. Not to be nosy, not to be busybodies, not to be gossips. But rather to know what’s happening so that all of these commands we have — to do these things for one another — can be fulfilled.
Do you realize that there are somewhere between 30 and 40 “one another” commands in the New Testament? Things that brothers and sisters are to do for one another. Are you fulfilling those commands?
A LOT of One Another Commands
I was listening to a man on youtube the other day talking about why he left the megachurch that he had helped start. It had grown to 5,000 members, and it was just quite a church. He said one of the things that caused him to leave that model for the church and begin starting churches in people’s homes was he noticed all of the “one another” commands that are in the New Testament. And he saw how large this church had become, and he thought to himself, “How are we able to carry out those one another commands?”
He’s right! If you’ve got 5,000 people, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But if you’re part of a small group, it’s easy to consider one another.
The Church Needs Stir Each Other Up!
So the writer of Hebrews says in verse 24 of chapter 10, “let us consider one another — let us consider one another — in order to stir up love and good works.” That phrase “stir up” means to provoke or spur one another on. We have a word for it we use in our day and age. It’s called motivation. We are to think about how we can help each other so that we can motivate one another to love and do good works.
You see, the good things you do for the body of Christ can motivate other people. A functioning, vibrant body of Christ is filled with members who are filling their lives with good works. We talked about this when we were discussing the temple and that as priests, we are to offer sacrifices. And some of the sacrifices that we can offer are sacrifices of good works.
The Body of Christ is Created for Good Works
We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works,” Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2 verse number 10. Paul says to Titus in Titus chapter 2 verses 11 through 14,
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men teaching us that denying ungodliness of worldly lusts we should live soberly and righteously and godly in the present age looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself his own special people zealous for good works.
You have been saved; you have been recreated in Jesus Christ, not for your own benefit alone. You have been created for good works.
The writers of Hebrews says we are to consider how our good works can motivate others, can provoke others to love and good works. When I am zealous for good works, I seek to excel in doing good things so the church may be built up, that the body may be edified, and so that I can be an influence for good in the lives of other people.
The Power of Good Works in the Church
There’s this incredible example in the book of Second Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. Paul is talking about the collection the Corinthians are taking up for the poor saints in Judea, and Corinth has apparently made, well, they’ve made quite a promise to Paul. And Paul has shared that promise with other congregations, and other congregations have been motivated by the promise that Corinth made.
In Second Corinthians chapter 9, verses 1 and 2, Paul says,
Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you. For I know your willingness about which I boast of you to the Macedonians. That Achaea was ready a year ago, and your zeal has stirred up the majority.
Achaea was the province in which Corinth was located. What Paul is saying is when you made this promise, when you expressed your willingness, it stirred people up. In fact, he goes on to talk about how it stirred up the Macedonians. The Macedonians were a group of very poor congregations, and paul said they were so inspired by the generosity of Corinth that they were motivated to give until it hurt.
You Are the Body of Christ!
Your good deeds can motivate other people, and this is what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. I’ve heard people ask why doesn’t the church do anything, and my answer is, “Why don’t you do something? You are the church!” You might be surprised how a consistent, long-term commitment to service can profoundly affect the dynamics of a congregation. Be the change that you want to see in other people.
You know it’s a real blessing to be a part of the Lord’s body. It’s wonderful to think about what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be a part of the elect, to be a part of the chosen people of God. But let’s not focus just on ourselves, my friends.
Better to Give to the Body of Christ than to Receive
Over in the 20th chapter of Acts, verses 32-35, Paul is giving his final words to the Ephesian elders. And in that passage, he is reminding them of his example. The final words he says to the Ephesian elders is a quote of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” If you go to church only thinking about what you get out of it, then you’re missing out on the greater blessing.
Instead, if you go to church thinking, “What can I give my brothers and sisters in Christ,” Jesus says you will be more blessed. Because it is more blessed to give than to receive. My friends, don’t get together with the church just to sit and get. Go to church so that you can give and live.