IVP - Online Pulpit - The Body of Christ

October 21, 2013

The Body of Christ

by Brandon McKoy

Take a moment to think about your role in church. How would you describe your contributions? Are you a foot, a hand, an ear? This may sound strange, but when most of us consider our function within the body of Christ, we refer to ourselves as individual parts; for example, “I am a preacher. She is a counselor,” and so forth. Standing on our own, we dedicate ourselves to strengthening these personal gifts in hopes that it will bring strength to the mind and body of our congregation.

As a preacher, for instance, I often attend conferences to gain insight into how I can craft my sermon and convey the biblical story in the most current and applicable ways. Recently, however, during one such conference, something occurred to me. Knowing the relational dynamics of the church I would return to, I couldn’t help but wonder if we spend too much time and energy separating ourselves from the body in order to enhance our individual parts. Could our vision of the church and our roles be limited by our Western individualistic lenses?

First Corinthians 12:25 tells us that, “there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for one another.” Just as the foot cannot function without the leg, or the hand without the arm, our individual contributions could not sustain the body if left to stand alone. While personal enrichment is indeed valuable, shouldn’t we be more concerned with how the entire church works together, each part strengthened through our relationships with one another? We can all agree that a church doesn’t live or die according to the success of one individual part but according to how well the body functions as a whole. So then, is it possible we’ve focused too much on our individual relationship with God rather than what God is doing in the midst of our entire church?

When we consider Paul’s metaphor regarding the body of Christ, we are reminded that “the body is not made up of one part, but of many” (1 Cor 12:14). So why do we place so much emphasis on our individual contributions when, in fact, the body of Christ exists as a whole. I am not an ear because I bring my “earness” to the body; I am an ear because of the body. Similarly, our uniqueness does not come from our individuality but from the relationships that we engage. While our gift of singing, preaching, teaching or counseling might benefit one body of believers, that same gift may not be needed in the next body we participate in. Our spiritual gifts emerge from and are sustained in our relationships. Why? Because we are all connected.

When we stop trying to identify where the hand ends and the wrist begins, we discover that our roles within the church may not be as separated as we initially assumed. For, as 1 Corinthians 12:26 reveals, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” By embracing a more relational focus on our roles, we have the potential to stimulate positive change in our ministry and gain what we need most: to know we are connected, to feel that we belong, to see that our lives matter and to love and honor the body as Christ intended.

McKoyOP.jpgBrandon is the author of Youth Ministry from the Outside In. He serves as youth pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Gastonia, North Carolina, and as an adjunct instructor at Gardner-Webb University in the department of religious studies and philosophy.

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at October 21, 2013 2:58 PM Bookmark and Share

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