The Functional Body, Part 1
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
About forty years ago, the church rediscovered its identity as the body of Christ. Millions of Christians were thrilled to realize that they had an essential role in their churches. Renewal came to these churches as the laity—ordinary Christian folk—began to exercise their gifts for ministry. It was an exciting time for God’s people to start living as Christ’s body.
Today, the good news of the gifted laity can sound like yesterday’s news, and who wants to hear old news? Scores of sermons and Bible studies have hammered home the point of lay ministry. Yet, far too many churches are still mostly audiences for professional “ministers” rather than well-trained teams of ministering laity. Pastors can be threatened by the idea of an empowered laity, while busy lay people are happy to let the “pros” handle their job. As a result, churches are dysfunctional bodies that limp along rather than sprinting forward with divine power.
I know it can be challenging for lay people to find their place in the body of Christ. I’ve faced this very challenge recently as I’ve sought my role in my local church, one where I am not a member of the staff. It took about a year of praying and waiting on God before I discovered how he wanted to use me in my church. Now I’m doing my part to help St. Mark Presbyterian Church be a fully-functional body, just as God intends it to be.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you doing your part as a member of Christ’s body? If not, are you willing to seek the Lord for clarity about what he wants you to do in your church?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, when your people are unleashed for ministry, they become a powerful force to advance your kingdom. Yet, sadly, many of your people don’t realize how you want to use them in the church and in the world. They’ve bought into the clergy-laity division that debilitates your church and impoverishes their lives.
Help your people, Lord—all your people—to realize who they are as your ministers. May your body – represented in local churches as well as in your church throughout the world – be fully functional, one in which all members are doing their part.
Help me, Lord, to be faithful in using the gifts and talents you have given me for the sake of your body. May all that I do be for your honor and glory. Amen.
P.S. from Mark
If you’re looking for further discussion of the church as the body of Christ, you might check out a couple of series on my website: The Church as the Body of Christ and Spiritual Gifts in the Body of Christ.