Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Body of Christ - IVa

I want to take another look at exercise. If exercise is necessary to the health of a body, is the current day church getting enough?

I previously defined exercise as practicing the spiritual disciplines and practicing the special function God gives to each of his children individually. We could also include basic obedience to God's commands and involvement in God's mission.

The spiritual disciplines can be regarded as exercise that involves God and a single person. Although some practices can be done as a group, most are considered a private, solitary activity. Practicing the special function or missional activity must necessarily involve other people. Both could involve partners or "objects" of service. And Scripture indicates that his children should be involved in all avenues of exercise. 

Since, the focus of most current day churches is participation in the weekly meeting, and the meetings are structured for a few to get lots of exercise and most to get little, one could conclude that the current day church is not getting enough exercise and its spiritual muscles are flabby. (Worship is a part of spiritual discipline. Churches do, and need to, practice it. And I do not want to seem to be denigrating it in any way. But if it is the only exercise one gets, it is like only doing dead-lifts. A person is not doing any work to build up the arms or the core, not to mention cardio.)

In current day churches, the primary focus of the weekly meeting is a lecture on a Biblical topic. It was not until the 8th century that such lectures became a regular part of the meeting. During the historical era when scholars believe the gospel of Jesus had greatest effect, God's family did not follow this practice. Now, some would be offended if a church did not follow this practice. In many places, the success\failure of a church is judged by the success\failure of this practice. One of the special abilities God gives is teaching. So, I doubt a spiritual lecture per se is wrong. But if a spiritual lecture is the only teaching being done, is there enough exercise? All teaching is not the same. There are different subjects. There are different contexts. Some believe there is a different grace given to coincide with each subject and context. (Special grace given to teach two-year olds?) So, I am still asking if current day churches provide sufficient exercise. And we are considering just one special ability God gives. There are others. Nor have we considered missional activity.

Is it one of the functions of church leadership to discern the best fit for a particular person and ability? Or is the area too complex and the nuances too subtle for anyone except God to understand? So, each child needs to be ready and alert for God's direction? Or to initiate seeking God's direction? The body of Christ, the family of God, is a living, breathing, growing thing. It consists of many parts, each with its own function. There is no part that does not have a function. There is no part that just sits. Scripture says the Holy Spirit places each part. The Holy Spirit places each part into its individual context. So, it is strategic, and necessary, within its web or relationships and within its context of life.

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