So today we come to the end of our 6 week series called Body Politics looking at some key components in how a local body of Christ gathered together needs to function or “govern” themselves.
We’ve covered a lot of ground these last few weeks and my hope and prayer is that these times together have grounded our community in some foundational ways of doing life together that will help us as we move forward. That when things come up, conflicts happen, and various other opportunities and struggles, we can look back, remember what we talked about, and apply these things to our communal life together.
The first week we talked about a reconciliation process that is laid out in Matthew 18:15-17 and how often this process is misused, and is not about reconciliation but judgment and destroying relationships. But this is a process that we need to use to heal conflicts and brokenness. And the process that I want this community to apply in a loving Christ honoring way.
The second week we talked about the defining mark of a community of followers of Jesus, who live under the lordship and reign of King Jesus. That being the defining mark of love. That when someone looks into a Christian community there should be (though often isn’t) this thought that this community could only be understood in light of the love that we have for each other, and only in light of the love that comes from Christ into us, and then out of us into each other. The third week we had our open meeting where we spent time praying together, sharing what God has been teaching us, and then going out into the community to bless, pray and talk with people.
Two weeks ago we talked about the idea that the best way to build community is not by looking inward, but to be together as you look outward. To build what we talked about, communitas, which is community derived from a group of people who have a larger purpose or mission so to speak. That our community needs to be on mission together and then that is when true community (or communitas) happens.
And finally last week we talked about 2 metaphors for church, institution and family. We talked about the fact that we, as the body of Christ, need to live lives that look more like a redeemed family than an institution. Relationally driven versus function or programmatic driven. Or as some one said, family is what I can bring to the group; Institution is what I can get out of the group.
Today we wrap it up with what I feel is a crucial cog in the wheel of our body politics. The cog of body building, that each of us has a part to play in the building of this body of Christ Followers. That without each other, and the gifts that we bring, we are an incomplete body, severely lacking the parts that we need to grow, function, and develop properly.
Now I want you to stop for a moment and focus on the picture of Jesus that is on the screen right now. Do you notice anything unusual or interesting about this picture? What do you notice?
If you would look closely at this mosaic of a “picture of Jesus” you’ll notice little squares. Each little square in the wider picture is a smaller picture and those smaller pictures are people within the Veritas community (as many pictures of people that I could find). And that says it all. We make up the body of Christ and if I were to take one of you out of the picture, it would look like a very different picture and we would be missing a crucial part of the puzzle known as Veritas.
Let’s turn to a portion of Scripture that addresses this crucial idea that each of us is a part of the body of Christ (the body is another metaphor for church) and that we desperately need each other (our gifts, talents, relationships, etc…) to be fully who God is calling us to be. Let’s look at 1st Corinthians 12:12-27 which says, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” As I mentioned before, the Apostle Paul is using a brilliant metaphor or illustration of the human body and relating it to the working of the community of followers of Jesus, living under the rule and reign of King Jesus. Even as every cell in a human body is linked by a common root (a common DNA code) at the same time the parts of the body look different, are treated different, work different, and accomplish different tasks. Even so, there is a great diversity in the body of Jesus, both in appearance and function but each member has a common root and a common goal. The body like unity of followers of Jesus is not a goal to be achieved but a fact of be recognized and lived out.
Paul then begins to look at various parts of the body and uses them to illustrate the point that each and every part of the physical human body is needed for the body to be healthy, living, active, and functioning properly. No part of the human body is more important or less important. Each has a role to do and is tied to the whole. And it is no different in the body of Christ. Every part is needed for the body of Christ to be healthy, living, active and functioning properly.
Paul effectively addresses those who believe they have nothing to offer (unpresentable parts, etc..) and those who believe they have everything to offer (eye, head). The fact is everybody has something but nobody has everything. The body (physical or spiritual) must have different parts and gifts for it would not work together effectively as a body. And in the body of Christ, not only is diversity acceptable, it is needed and essential.
The Apostle Paul, in using the metaphor of the body, says much about body politics. The parts of the body work together. The ears and eyes don’t serve themselves but the whole body. The hands do not feed and defend themselves but the whole body. The heart does not only supply blood to itself, but serves the whole body. Sometimes there is a part of the body that only lives to serve itself. It doesn’t contribute anything to the rest of the body and everything it gets it uses and feeds and grows itself. It’s called cancer.
If you are a follower of Jesus than you are a part of something greater than yourself today. You are a part of a local body of Christ, and also the worldwide body of Christ. And you are crucial to the life of the body, especially this local body of Christ. No matter whether your feel unimportant, or over-important. Whether you feel like you are excluded because you don’t believe you have any gifts, or if you are excluding others because you think they don’t have your gifts, Paul says it best at the end of what we read, “Now you are the body of Christ and each of you is a part of it.”
But what does it mean to be a part of the body of Christ? What part of the body are you and what can be your contribution to the body of Christ (locally especially but also globally)? How can we seek to include and help each part of our body live out the calling and purpose that they have been designed for? And what does this say to us gathered together as the body of Christ called Veritas? That is what we are going to spend some time unpacking together.
1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, etc… do you have regarding the message and the Scripture? 2. If you were a body part, what body part would you be and why? 3. You are part of the body of Christ. What part of the body of Christ are you and how can you use those gifts to help (contribute to) the body be healthy and growing? 4. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what should we do about it?