body of Christ

Balance

...where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

...where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

One of the most difficult things I believe for humanity to achieve is balance.

Paul said for us to let all things be done in moderation, but this is no easy task. We all walk in a dichotomy, between the seen and unseen world, where the walk of faith and the walk of sight are very prone to imbalance, to the point of emphasizing particular aspects of our journey to the neglect of others.

For example, we can overly stress the love of God and neglect the holiness and justice of God. We can so focus on His holiness, that we miss the glory of His love. Complete theological systems have been built by men around pursuing such extremes. The result of these extremes is that all too often we see major pendulum swings in the faith community as we seek to achieve that experience of balance in our lives.

I believe we are seeing one such pendulum swing in recent days. I believe the scales are tipping for a dangerous emphasis on individuality within the body of Christ. Understanding our individuality is so important. In fact, the only way to true spiritual health is to know that God not only loves the world, and also loves me. We dare not allow our significance to be shaped by - and perhaps lost in - the crowd.

It's not surprising that many people, after experiencing the harshness of this world, doubt that God loves them. "I know God loves the world, but I really question how God could love someone like me", is a question that is asked all too often by far too many people. We must embrace that God loves me, because He wanted one of me, and I am the only one on the face of this big wide world who can express God the way I do. So, I say yes to individuality, but not to the expense of the corporate whole.

Paul went to great pains in the New Testament to herald that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. We are individual members that make up a body!

There is none within this body that does not need the rest of the body.

Paul taught that each individual member has different giftedness with which to serve the others in the body, and no individual member has all the gifts. This forces us to experience a very healthy interdependence of the Life of the Holy Spirit being subsequently expressed and received by each of us in a unique way through each individual member of the glorious body of Christ. Amazing!

Recently though, I am hearing an overemphasis on our individuality with God that I fear might prove to be ultimately unhealthy to both individuals and to the corporate body. I have heard people affirm that through God Who lives in them, they have no need of anyone or anything. They stress “my identity” and “my righteousness” and “my sainthood.” God never intended that His glorious indwelling would lead us to isolation. Rather, he intended for us to live in relation with others who likewise experience and express His life.

As a small way of affirming this reality... did you know that the word “saint” NEVER appears in the singular in the Bible? It is always found in the plural. Did you know that likewise in Colossians 1, when Paul shares the glory that is Christ in you, that the word “you” is NOT in the singular, but in the plural. Christ in us “all” is our corporate hope of glory.

The truth is the Body of Christ needs you, and you need the Body of Christ! This is the true glory of the New Testament!

Christ In Y'all

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

It is NOT about you,
it is ALL about God,
but because it is ALL about God it is all about you

If you are truly walking in grace and love, in turn, it will become ALL about others, for that is what God is all about - you and others.

So, it is all about you, but if that is where it stops, you are falling short of the New Covenant. It is a plural you in Col. 1:27. It is NOT "Christ in you" -but it is "Christ in y'all"

We All Have A Part To Play

So this is cool...

In I Cor 12, it tells us that God gave different gifts to different believers,

all in varying degree and function. Hmmmmm....

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

God gifted us uniquely as individual believers. There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ. Therefore, the body of Christ needs me and I need the body of Christ. God established a diversity, that necessitates an interdependence among us, that forces a unity that protects us from uniformity! WOW!

Can I illustrate?

It is like the individual believer is gifted to play a musical instrument. We play like no one else can play. We make beautiful music that no one else can make. Aren't we special? Yes, we are.

But when we assemble together, and each as individuals bring our beautiful instruments, and together we all play our beautiful music together.... it is even more beautiful because it is also POWERFUL! We, the church, when we function like God intended us to function, are like a huge symphony....

That is the word in fact, that Paul used in this passage - sumpheron - that is what we are when we function with others, for others, to the glory of God. And the world hears our beautiful music and for the first time, sees the invisible God through His physical church.

Oh the glory that God intended for His church....  Play your part. Play it beautifully. Play it for others. This is what the Christ Life is all about!

Dealing With Pain

It hurts to hurt! We were not designed to hurt! When we hurt, we want to stop hurting! There is NOTHING wrong with that at all. The great Apostle Paul hurt often. In II Cor 1, he hurt so bad he says that he was despairing of life! Did you hear that? He wanted to die! It is sad that people miss this passage and the honesty that we should all have in the body of Christ to share our struggles.

It is sad that the body of Christ all too often does not allow us to struggle. I wonder how many in the modern church would have hushed Paul and told him he was not offering a “positive confession” or that he was being a bad example of faith to others. I love his honesty.

He declared another time in II Cor 12 that he had a thorn in the flesh, and it hurt so bad he begged God to take it away. Again, an honest testimony. Obviously, Paul did not believe in “triumphalism” – the belief that we are able to live above our circumstances. That is something God never promised. Even the Lord Jesus Himself, was in such torment in the garden of Eden, that he was sweating blood and begging the Father that there might be another way available to Him besides the way of the cross. 

The key is that neither of their desperate situations ended in despair. In Jesus life, the Father strengthened Him as He resolved to live according to the Father’s will. Paul in II Cor 1 remembered the resurrection life and power of Jesus, that life rose up within him to empower him through the experience of death that had come upon him. And in II Cor 12, God’s power showed up in Paul’s weakness enabling him to endure the thorn in his life. Did you see the common ground in each of these issues? They did not experience “triumphalism” – living “above” their circumstances.

Rather, they experienced God in and through the midst of their experiences. They encountered death and life at the same time! They experienced sorrow and joy at the same time! They experienced weakness and strength at the same time! This is the reality that only we as believers can experience. We are the only ones on the planet who can weep sorrowful and joy filled tears at the same time and here is what I want you to take away. 

This opportunity to suffer in faith, is only provided for us in this life. Years from now, in eternity future, we may have the desire to love our heavenly Father and come to Him and tell Him, “Oh Father. I love you so much I am willing to suffer for you!” That is a noble declaration on our parts, but do you realize the folly of that desire? He will say to us in return, “Oh my child. Thank you for your heart. But that opportunity was already provided for you during your life on earth. You can never, ever have the opportunity to suffer for me again for all eternity!”

The Bible says there is a crown reserved for those who suffer in faith. I must admit, I do not understand what that really means, but I do realize that I only have one shot at “earning” that crown, and then that opportunity will be gone forever. That reality has changed my perspective on the wounds that come in to my life in this world. I still don’t want to hurt! It hurts to hurt! But, those hurts provide me with an opportunity to trust God in a way that is beyond the scope of normal faith – and the opportunity to do so is a fleeting one, only available “in the moment!”

Hmmmmmmmm….

Worth Fighting For...

My son was a very easy child to train. He was tender hearted and very teachable. Please understand, he was no sissy. He is on SWAT and very often the first guy in the door on the raids that he has to conduct. He is a man's man, to be sure.

When he was younger though, there was one occasion where he got very testy with me. Emotions elevated, words intensified, and then in my frustration with him, I said, "You listen to me boy. I will fight for you even if it means I may have to fight against you!" At that point, he said, "Wow dad, that was a good one!" I said, "I know, I have to go write that one down."

That is "the one" that I would share with you today.

The church, my friends, is worth fighting for, even if it means we have to fight against her in the process. She is not perfect. She believes many lies and has many perverted practices that are not in line with Father's Word. Does that mean we should just abandon her, give up on her, separate from her, leave her to her error?

That would not be love. I know that it will be uncomfortable, I know that we may get hurt in the process, but who will fight for her if not we are for her and a part of her? One of the great mistakes we are making in the grace movement is isolating and insulating ourselves from the church because they don't agree with us, belittle us, and persecute us. But isn't that exactly what Jesus and the apostles went through as they sought to deliver the church to the freedom that Jesus came to give her? 

Please understand, I am not real high on the church in America. I believe she is weak, anemic, and pursuing much worldly agenda and methodologies in her pursuit to become successful instead of faithful ... but she is worth fighting for. Oh, I hear you. She may not even be the church... that is true. But that is not our job to determine who really is a believer and who is not. That is the Lord's job, our job is to herald, to announce, to teach and instruct, and to correct with sound doctrine -- using the glory of the New Covenant and the finished work of Christ.

She is His body, purchased with His own blood, and we must fight for her, even if it means we have to fight against her. Might I suggest you go read Acts 20:20-28? I believe it will encourage you in the fight!