God’s Team

The only sport that I really follow is football and what a play-off season it has been! Who thought, 10 weeks ago, that the Bengals would be going to the Superbowl on February 13?  The reporting often focuses on the quarterback, a key player to be sure; or a star receiver who can jump high into the air and snag the ball in the end zone.  In fact football is a contest of TEAMS, not individuals. The efforts of hundreds of people – managers, coaches, trainers, linemen, receivers, kickers, special teams –  who do their jobs well –  make the win possible!  A great quarterback cannot function without an effective offensive line. A great offensive squad can still lose the game if the defense cannot stop the other team’s advance on the field.

You and I are called to be a part of God’s Team. Yesterday I had the privilege of returning to the pulpit at FDC and I spoke from my heart about the critical importance of the Church. (Service available at this link) So many Christians have abandoned church, privatizing their faith, often for what they consider good reason. I acknowledge scandals, leadership failures, and terrible things done in the name of Jesus. But, you and I will never be all that God desires of us without being ‘on the team,’ serving, giving, worshipping, encouraging in the community of Believers that is called “church.”

A tragic error about the nature of church has crept into our understanding, reinforced even by the architecture of the buildings in which we worship.  One person, standing up front, becomes ‘the Christian’ and we place all kinds of expectations on that leader. Some of those leaders come to love the attention, the power, and a toxic environment develops.  But, if we understand God’s desire for the Church, a beautiful, enriching community develops that reflects His goodness to those who look on.

Paul explains to the Ephesians (and us) that God sent His Son to save us, that He gives us spirituals gifts, that He calls us into His Body for this purpose:  “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:8-10 (NLT)  A healthy church makes others say “Wow, what a God.”  

Somehow we have come to believe that the Church exists to serve us. We hope to be entertained, or inspired, or feel secure, or be comforted, or a hundred other things that are related mostly to ‘how I feel about myself.’  While it is true that God invites us into His Church to make our lives rich, to give us a place to belong, and to discover our true identity in Christ – it is also true that we are called into that Body to serve, to surrender ourselves to His greater call.

Our greatest joy flows from doing what He equips us to do.  Our relationships are illustrated this way:  “Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.

And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am only an ear and not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye—then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it.” (1 Corinthians 12:13-18, NLT)

Are you on God’s team?   
When you trusted Christ Jesus to save you, when you chose baptism as your declaration of discipleship, you were called to be part of that team and it is called “The Church!”

The follow-up question is this – are you playing your position well, to the best of your ability, focused on the team win, not your own needs or desires?

The word from the Word today is a prayer. Receive the blessing, begin to connect, worship, give, serve, and pray thinking not so much as an individual but as a team member. The results in your life and for the Church can be ‘immeasurably more’ than you can imagine.  “I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
 May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.”
(Ephesians 3:17-21, NLT)

How Beautiful

How beautiful the hands that served
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross

How beautiful how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That chose to forgive and never despise

And as He laid down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as He died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the radiant Bride
Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth

Twila Paris © 1990 Ariose Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Mountain Spring Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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