We are going to reflect on another metaphor of God’s people. This one is pretty familiar. God’s people are like a human body. And each person is a member, or a part, of that body. There are several factors that get highlighted with this.
- It is the Holy spirit who adds people to the body.
- All parts of the body have a function. That function facilitates growth, reproduction and health in the body.
- It is the Holy spirit who gives and empowers that function.
- All parts are needed and valuable.
- All parts need the other parts.
- All parts contribute to completing God’s mission.
- God’s Perspective
There is one view of the church as almost a functioning machine. There are numerous parts, and if each part does its job, the machine works. It does its job. The Holy Spirit acts like a supernatural repair man. If the machine does not function optimally, he troubleshoots the machine, repairs it – or replaces the part – and gets it running again.
Yet, people are not cogs in a machine. If they were, the church would not get off track, church leaders would not sin, there would only be one model – the right model – of church, and the mission of disciples being raised in every people group would have been finished long ago.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced this machine view of the church is not God’s view. It is probably man’ view … or some men’s view. Men certainly have placed an image more in keeping with a corporation on the church.
God has a more organic view. The body does need to function. It does need to do its job. But it is God who places each part, and is eternally present with each one. He speaks to each part continually, guiding each one, teaching each one, encouraging each one. Each part grows, is strengthened, and serves or ministers. (In the original language, the word is translated both “serve” and “minister.”)
Some parts have functions that move more toward “member care,” maintenance or internal growth. Others have functions that move more toward reproduction. All parts are charged with keeping the commands of Jesus, which move toward both internal growth and reproduction. (Jesus’ commands: repent and believe, be baptized, worship, pray, love/serve, give, and make disciples.)
As the body grows and reproduces, naturally produced by-products are: personal transformation, cultural transformation and a viral infiltration of God’s family into lives, families, cities and people groups.
- Living My Life
The important thing for an individual to recognize is – he is part of something bigger than himself. He is part of a family, a movement, that seeks to re-establish God’s kingdom. It is a revolutionary movement. It is a counter-cultural movement. And it needs every man and woman on deck and active.
The individual needs to also remember that they are not a cog in a machine. They are a vital member, a vital part, of the body. And the enemy wants to convince people otherwise.
- “You are only expected to attend meetings and watch.”
- "You don’t have the right training.”
- “You are not a professional.”
- “You are a sinner.”
- “You are a failure.”
- “You have nothing to contribute.”
And God is saying precisely the opposite. Indeed, a body may function without each part expressing who God designed them to be. But it will not function optimally. It will give the world a cartoon image of God’s family.
The body will not love correctly. It will not serve correctly. It will not pray correctly. It will not worship correctly. It will not be an agent of transformation correctly.
I cannot say what vital part any one member of God’s family plays. Each one must go to the Father. Or maybe go to someone who knows them and the Father. But the Father wants each one to know and to fill their part. It completes God’s mission. It fulfills their design. It gives each person joy.