By, Isam Itson III
Sometimes people ask me, “Why do I need to join a church to make a difference?” Because a group of people dedicated to honoring the love of God is the most powerful rebuke to the self interest, injustice, and hypocrisy that destroys the fabric of our societies. And as we have discussed before, God intends the unity of the members of his Church to shine his light and show the powers that be a better way of life.
Ephesians 4:4-16, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
…And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
We are one body. Back in Ephesians 1:22, Paul wrote that the church is the body of Jesus Christ and that Jesus is the head. Jesus Christ has freely given each of us unique gifts, so that we can be his gift, to each other. He gives us as gifts to each other so that we can help each other grow and mature in love. We dedicate our unique, God given, life and talents, to God’s common cause for us in Jesus Christ.
Grace is unearned favor. It’s love given simply because we are valued by God as his children. When a child is born it is proper that the parents love them and care for them. Parents give their children so much, simply because they belong to them. We are theirs, and they are ours. We do everything in our power for the health and well being of our children.
In the same way, we are given to each other by Jesus Christ to help each other grow in the love of Christ. And Christ has given each of us unique gifts so we can help each other grow. God has made us to help each other in the name of Jesus. And Jesus has freely given us unique gifts to help each other.
Our commitment to God and each other is portrayed by Paul as being members of the body of Jesus Christ. Christ is the head and we are members of his body. We work in harmony together under his direction. Our leaders are given to us by God to equip us for the works of service that God has created us for in Jesus Christ. We have each been given gifts and abilities by Christ to help each other grow as we use our time, energy, and resources serving each other in the love of Christ. It’s the picture of a healthy body working smoothly. Like an elite athlete at peak performance.
I love watching professional sports highlights. Especially on “Top 10” lists for team sports. I love the nearly superhuman things athletes are able to do because of their years of disciplined training. Pass the ball, hit the ball, kick the ball, catch the ball, put the ball in the basket, or the net while someone equally impressive, is aiming to stop you. When each team member is dedicated to their personal contribution to fulfilling their role for the team, it produces some amazing moments.
My favorite, is the no look pass. When the teammates have practiced so much together and know each other so well that they know where each other are on the court or the field without even looking. They catch their opponents completely off guard. Each member has committed their personal energy and discipline to one purpose. Make the shot. Score the goal. That is the power of dedicated submission to each other. It is beautiful and exhilarating and captivating. We rightly celebrate their excellence.
As members of the body of Christ, the church, we have one goal. Love God and honor God’s love for others. And according to God, we are meant to help each other do that. As we help each other, we grow together. As we grow together, we are able to do more and more amazing things in the world as members of Christ’s body, in submission to God’s love.
Recalling our previous article, Changing hearts, our dedication to personally and sacrificially honor God’s love for one another in Jesus Christ displays the wisdom of God before those in positions of power that pursue their own interests at the expense of others. By honoring God’s love and authority as our Creator, we overcome our opposition.This is how the Apostle Paul put it when he wrote to the church in Ephesians 4:1-3,
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Our goal, our purpose, as members of the church is helping each other honor God’s love for one another no matter how much it costs us, as an expression of our trust in God and submission to God’s authority as our Creator and redeemer in Jesus Christ. This is what defines us fundamentally as followers of Jesus Christ.
Each sport has coaches, and players. Coaches dedicating their knowledge and experience to the players success as members of the team. Players dedicating themselves and their unique talent to the success of their teammates. Everybody working toward the success of the team.
God’s goal and purpose for his team, the church, the body of Christ, is helping each other, help others, help the people they encounter, in the name of Jesus Christ. Church leadership is meant to be dedicated to helping people use the life and unique talents that Christ has given them to help each other love one another in the church. Members of the church congregation are meant to dedicate themselves to loving the people they encounter as they go about their daily lives.
If you are a church leader reading this, how are you doing coach? If you are a member of the congregation, how are you doing player? Are we giving our all, to Christ, for others, to the praise of God’s glory? Are we practicing the fundamentals? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you are not a member of a local church, it’s time for you to become one. Find a church that is dedicated to helping their members live for God. Pick a team, and join the game. Be a part of God’s solution, making a difference for the better in the world around us.
Next Thursday, we begin addressing the fundamental habits of thought and practice that strengthen our trust and commitment to God and each other, and overcome the toxic effects of unbridled self interest in our personal lives and our communities.