Week 15: Your Role in the Body of Christ
In the New Testament, there are
two books called I and II Corinthians. These books were actually letters
written by Paul to believers of the church in the city of Corinth. One of the points that Paul brought
up in I Corinthians was that the church was like one body with many parts. He
explained that this is because when the believers got baptized, they were all
baptized by one Spirit into one body – the body of Christ, which is the church
(1 Cor 12:12,13). He told them that every member in
church has a specific role. He illustrated this by reminding them that every
individual part of the human body has a specific role. It is only when each
fulfills its individual role does the body then function well as a single unit.
You know this to be true. When your body is working properly, you experience
Such is the nature of the body of
the church; although it is our spiritual health that we are now talking about.
What, then, is our role once we have believed in Jesus and become his
disciples? Before we were baptized into the body of Christ, we were like God’s
scattered people from the nation of Israel (Ezek 36-37). But the New
Testament church can be seen as a renewal of God’s people and the true Israel
(Eph 2:11-13; 1 Pet 2:9,10). Where before we had gone
our separate ways, we now are one. Are we an eye or an ear? Are we the hand or
the foot? Whatever our role may be, the important thing to remember is that we
fulfill it to the best of our ability.
The fact that believers remain as
one body was of paramount importance to Jesus. We see this in a prayer he
offered to the heavenly Father just hours before the betrayal that would lead
to his subsequent death. “Now I am no longer in the world,” Jesus prayed, “but
these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy
Father, keep through Your name those whom You have
given Me, that they may be one as We are” (Jn 17:11).
Jesus followed this with a prayer for us. He said, “I do not pray for these
alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they
all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be
one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (Jn
Such is Christ’s love for us. It
wasn’t enough that he became a sin offering and died in our stead. He did not
say in a begrudging fashion, OK, I’m done! about his
sacrifice for us. Rather, as head of the church (Eph 5:23) the Lord understood
that even after we have taken the first step to believe his Word and have accepted
water baptism, we still have a long way to go. But as members of the church—the
body of Christ—we are in this together. We are all sojourners in this journey
of faith. With this in mind, we shall study the importance of our individual
role in the Church.
Some Basic Principles
One In Truth.
As Christians, being one in the
truth of Jesus’ gospel is very important (3 Jn 2-4).
In fact, we might go so far as to say having a “divisive spirit” and false
teachings (however insignificant those teachings may appear) are grounds for
excommunication from the church (Tit 3:9,10; 2 Jn
9-11). From the example set by the apostolic church, we understand the church’s
fellowship requires oneness in doctrine (Acts ). Today, our participation in church life must be grounded
in the truth of the gospel (Gal 1:6-10) and the apostles’ teachings (Eph ). If we are not one in truth,
our fellowship with one another will not be approved by God, for the Holy
Spirit, which abides and lives within the church, is the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17).
One In Love.
As individual members of Christ’s
body, we must have a deep and sincere love for one another. Only a unity, in
love, can build up the church (Eph ;
1 Pet 3:8). Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor
8:1). We could say this another way: Pride divides a
church, but love unifies a church. As human beings, we all have some sense of
knowledge and pride within ourselves. As a result, we can never completely
avoid disputes within the church, for the church is not yet perfect. We have
not yet cultivated ourselves into God’s image, so we lack many of the spiritual
qualities needed to avoid disputes and quarrels in the church. Yet, love covers
a multitude of sins, and it covers up the imperfections we see in church. Therefore,
we need a fervent love for one another, as God’s church, to cover up our own
ugliness (Prov ;
1 Pet 4:8). If we can learn how to be unified in love for one another, we would
see how the church could quickly be built up. And, with love, our fellowship
with one another in church would be that much sweeter.
One in Purpose.
Generally, everyone in life has a
purpose. Even if we don’t know where we’ll be ten years, or even a week, from
now, we all have our little goals and purposes. Yet king
Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiates, continually
pounded the message, “Life is meaningless.” While overly optimistic people shun
this type of message, there’s a truth in king
Solomon’s statement. When we come to the issue of ultimate purpose, life does
seem quite meaningless. We work and work just to eat, sleep, and eventually
die. Yet we often forget that the meaninglessness king Solomon saw was the
product of the limitations we, as human beings, face living “under the sun”
(Eccl ; cf. 1 Cor -19,
32). Still, we must learn to transcend our personal ambitions and goals in life
to that of Christ’s. Just as a person’s two feet must have a common purpose to
walk normally, the church body must have one purpose to reach the goal of God’s
Be There for One Another.
Paul’s letters tell us that he
made it a point to encourage the believers to be there for one another.
Depending on the situation of a particular church, Paul took care to choose
specific words to convey this message of encouragement. For example, when the
Thessalonians were not quite sure how they should go about waiting for Jesus’
Second Coming, Paul told them, to “comfort each other and edify one another, just
as you also are doing” (1Thess 5:11). He also offered this suggestion, “Warn
those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient
with all” (1Thess ).
Be One in Prayer.
From the model example set by the
apostolic church, we learn that the success and spiritual power of the
apostolic church depended upon their unity in prayer. (Acts 1:14; 2:1, 42; ). Likewise, the success of our
fellowship with each other in church depends upon the success of our ability to
pray with a oneness of heart and purpose. If it is
love that builds up the church, we have to ask ourselves, “What do we love the
most?” Do we love our pride and material possessions more than we love our
brothers and sisters in church? We have to understand our prayer is driven by
our heart and purpose. Jesus once said, “For where your treasure is, there your
heart will be also” (Mt ).
Continually Fellowship In
The Bible teaches us not to give
up assembling together, as some are in the habit of doing (Heb ). Here is a common excuse for
not attending church: “I can worship God at home. God is spirit, so as long as
I worship him in spirit and truth, I don’t have to go to church.” Such a
misconception fails to see two things. First, church gatherings and worship can
edify us in ways that worshiping by ourselves cannot. Our prayers are more
effective when we gather in Jesus’ name because he promises to be among us (Mt -20). Through church services
and activities, we can encourage and serve each other with our God-given gifts.
Second, a true worshipper of God would not want to stay away from other
believers. It is not possible to love God if we do not love our brethren with
action (1Jn ).
Gathering with other believers allows us to practice the Lord’s command of
loving others. Not only so, through fellowship in the Lord, our joy will always
be full and complete (1 Jn 1:3,4).
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
Who is the head of the church?
Who make up the body of the church?
The church is the body of _________________.
Our church life must be grounded in the truth of
the gospel and the apostles’ teachings. T/F
What does Eph 4:16 mean to you?
Read 1 Pet 3:8. List the things we should do to
in the body of Christ.
Search the book of Acts for a time when the
apostles were one in prayer. Write a summary in the space provided.
Why must disciples be there for each other?
How do you “fellowship” with the brothers- and
Where in the Bible does it tell you that Jesus
has prayed for all believers to remain united?
was recently baptized during a church’s spiritual convocation. Bobby only
speaks English, but most of the people in Bobby’s local church speak Chinese.
Due to the cultural and language barriers, Bobby often feels out of place
during church services. However, Bobby has a great love for God and the truth
found in the Bible. Because of this love, Bobby still enjoys coming to church
to listen to sermons, study the Bible, and pray. However, after service, Bobby
quickly leaves because he feels alienated from the other members. One day,
after church service, Billy, a Chinese church brother, sees what’s going on and
quickly invites Bobby to his house for an informal fellowship before Bobby
leaves. But Bobby politely declines Billy’s invitation because of his past
experience. Bobby attended an informal fellowship before and was stuck
listening to Chinese church brothers and sisters make jokes in Chinese all
night long. As time went by, Bobby began to feel less and less inclined to
attend services. Finally, Bobby said to himself one
day, “I can study the Bible and pray to God right here at home. Why should I go
all the way to church to do that?”
If you were a church member who saw Bobby’s feelings of alienation developing,
what could you have done?
Conversely, if you were in Bobby’s shoes, and felt alienated, what do you think
would be the best way to participate in church life? Or do you think Bobby was
right in wanting to stay at home?
Do you think it is enough that you can make Bobby feel at home among this body
Jack, a newly baptized convert to the True Jesus
Church, was introduced to the church by Jill. Before Jill brought Jack to
church, Jill had some feelings toward Jack. Jack, however, only thought of Jill
as his friend. Later, Jill made her feelings known to Jack. Happily, after Jack
thought about it for some time, Jack and Jill became a couple. But the love was
short-lived. Jill found Jack to be too insensitive. Jack though Jill was too
ill-tempered. When they broke up, Jack immediately stopped coming to church.
Before long, rumors about their broken romance began flying in church. Jill was
furious when she found out who was “talking behind her back.” She refused to
forgive the sisters who were responsible. Soon, Jill too quits church. Examine
this story carefully and think about/discuss what problems you can spot in the
fellowship of this local church.
What steps could’ve been taken to avoid or resolve these problems?
If you were in Jill’s shoes, what do you think would be the best way to react
to the comments made “behind her back”?
of the practical teachings mentioned above was to try to encourage one another
in church. For your activity, try to think of and put into practice one way to
encourage the brothers and sisters in church. You can be as imaginative or as
straightforward as you want. It may be something as simple as making a phone
call during the week to see how someone is doing in their faith. Find someone
in church to follow up on your progress. By the end of a month’s time, if you
haven’t done anything to encourage another brother or sister, think about why.
Make a commitment, for the next month, to do something to encourage at least
one brother or sister.