CURRENT PREACHING SERIES:
Examining What Makes Us Christ’s Body
Oct 7, 2018 Ephesians 4:3-13 Christ still has a body in this world, and it’s us. But each of us has been gifted differently.
Oct 14, 2018 Psalm 150 There are gifts of worship in the church.
Oct 28, 2018 Deuteronomy 11:18-21; 2 Timothy 3:10-17 (Reformation) There are gifts of formation (and reformation) in the church.
Nov 4, 2018 1 John 1:1-7 (All Saints’ Sunday) There are gifts of fellowship in the church.
Nov 11 Romans 12:9-13 There are gifts of care in the church.
Nov 18 Colossians 4:2-6 There are gifts of outreach in the church.
Nov 25 Ephesians 4:11-16 (Christ the King) Christ is the head of the body, the church.
The Body of Christ
Everyone has a body, and it is a gift from God! As the psalmist says, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa 139:14). When we think of all that goes into our being—miracles of sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell; miracles of walking, running, breathing, sleeping, healing—all of it is almost too unfathomable to comprehend.
Even Jesus had a body. This in itself is a mind-boggling piece of theology, that the one through whom all things were created took on flesh, became incarnate, and was embodied for a few decades in human history. But Jesus’s body was crucified, died, and was buried. And ultimately, three days later, was resurrected (talk about a mind-boggling piece of theology!). This same Jesus, in his resurrected body, ascended to the right hand of God the Father, from where he will eventually return one day in order to judge the world. But here’s another key piece of theology we often miss—
Jesus still has a body on earth.
This is different from his resurrected body which resides in heaven. Instead, this is his mystical body which is here in our world, and it’s called the church. As the apostle Paul describes it, the church is Christ’s body which is made up of many members (just like our own physical bodies) but has a unity of purpose (also like our own physical bodies). And, like our own bodies, it is no less miraculous and no less of a gift, but each member has been gifted in different ways for the sake of the overall Body.
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at different gifts Christ has blessed his Body with. But for this World Communion Sunday, let us realize that, as we partake together of the Lord’s Supper—the very body and blood of Christ—we are not partaking alone, or only with those present with us in the room, we are partaking with all of God’s people around the world and across the ages. Together, we don’t just partake of the body of Christ, we are the Body of Christ in the world.
Examining the Gift of Worship
Christ has one mystical body in this world and it is made up of all who follow him (Eph 4:4). But, because we come from different tribes, tongues, and nations, Christ’s body is very diverse. The Spirit utilizes this diversity by granting differing gifts to each member of the body so those gifts might be utilized to make the body whole (Eph 4:7, 11-13).
While the broader body of Christ is meant to be whole, we believe each local expression of Christ’s body—that is, the local church—is also meant to be whole. There seems to be basically five areas where each local church needs to continue to grow in its health and wholeness: the area of worship, of formation, of fellowship, of care, and of outreach.
Let’s examine more closely that first area. To worship the one true God is a great gift and privilege. In fact, because the church is a spiritual entity, if it fails in worship, it fails at being a church. And yet, for as important as worship is in the life of the local church, this is also one of its most highly divisive areas. Individuals disagree and local churches split over meanings and styles of worship. Some people prefer reverent and quiet worship, the type which allows them to hear personally from God and process their encounter with him. This is good, for even in the apostle’s letter to the Corinthian church, he acknowledges, “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). However, other people prefer to be more emotive and expressive in their worship. This is also good, as we see worship in the temple included “stringed instruments,” “trumpets,” “flutes,” “tambourines,” “clashing cymbals,” and even “dancing” (Psa 150:3-5).
The fact is, both styles of worship are appropriate and both can co-exist, as long as we recognize them as preferences. Preferences do not give us license to look down at others who have preferences different than our own, they should instead allow us to understand each other better and learn new ways in which to worship together.
So, how are you spiritually gifted to help your local church in the area of worship? How can you encourage others whose preferences are different from your own? How is the Lord calling you to build up his body?
Let us mature together, growing and attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.