We Americans are an interesting mix of ideals. On one hand we are fiercely independent. We like a wide array of choices and rebel against being pushed into a place where we must do what we are told. Yet, we also want our social safety nets in place. We cherish those benefits that come to us in all kinds of subsidies from our child’s free public education, to college assistance, to healthcare subsidies, to Social Security. We hold onto our rights of free association but want to know that we are included in a community that will surround us with support in times of need. Do you agree?
In the Church of Jesus Christ, there is a principle that we cannot ignore. That Christian who desires the most productive service, the richest experience of the Spirit will leave behind childish dependence, grow through independence, and give himself to a life that is interdependent on others of faith. Galatians 6 is about those interdependent relationships within Christ’s church. In The Message it reads this way: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.“
Each of us enjoys a unique relationship with God who gives us gifts to use in His service, but that relationship finds context and complement within His church. The model for that community is the body. Yes, in a sense the Church can be like a family or even an army, but 1 Corinthians 12 explains best way to understand who she is. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV) That passage goes on to remind us that no part of the Body of Christ can discard another without serious loss of function. Even the parts of the Body that operate unseen are critical to her wholeness!
Abandon the romantic notions that accompany that image! The profound connections that we form within Christ’s Body are wonderful and enriching, but also demand surrender of our Self, laying down our pride, and accommodation of the needs of the whole over our individuality. The Word teaches us that “no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”?” (1 Corinthians 12:19-21)
Christian friend, pray to understand how God has made you, where He has placed you, and how develop your gifts and callings. As we do this, responsibly becoming the person HE desires, living contentedly in the place to which God has called us; fitting into the Body of Christ in humility, we find the best Christian experience! This is interdependence!
Here is wisdom that will guide us into that communal life, to the wholeness of the Body that lets Jesus shine in His church.
“Always be humble and gentle.
Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6, NLT)
Lord, call us together, into your service.
Make us strong, together. Amen.
The Church’s One Foundation
The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is His new creation by water and the word
From heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy bride
With His own blood He bought her and for her life He died
Elect from ev’ry nation yet one o’er all the earth
Her charter of salvation-
One Lord, one faith, one birth
One holy name she blesses
Partakes one holy food
And to one hope she presses with ev’ry grace endued