Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Fully Functional Body

The Bible compares the church to a human body. All the members in our body have a specific job to fill. But, for example, the hand does not help only the mouth with food, or only the foot with tying the shoe laces. The hand will reach up, and comb hair, remove an eyelash from the eye, and help the other hand in lifting a heavy weight. We know a body could not properly function without interaction between all its members.

Why then do great portions of a congregation sometimes withdraw their participation, whether vocally or physically, and allow just a few select members to operate and mobilize a thus handicapped body in its mandate to reach out to the world, and in its efforts to overcome the obstacles of life? How can we expect a thus impaired congregation to function as God intended, when in the physical realm we don’t believe a body can achieve its full capacity with paralyzed members, or without eyesight or hearing?

The biblical analogy of the body is not just a beautiful picture to look at from time to time, as if it had no practical implications. We must ensure it is a reality in our congregation. The Bible says that it is God who gives believers spiritual gifts, not the church or the pastors. In the same way that God did not place our hands where our eyes belong, or our nose where our feet should be, He does not wish for us to give believers tasks they are not spiritually prepared to fill. Furthermore, it is not God’s desire for us to say to the hand, or the foot, “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

A congregation whose other members reciprocate important church matters only with the pastors, and not also with each other, will lack the healthy development that occurs when all believers have the opportunity and freedom to share with each other. The pastors are as much a part of the body as the other members. It is obvious that it is impossible for a body to perform all its functions with only its mouth or hand. Why then do believers sometimes expect a congregation to function thus? Everyone needs equal chance to share their thoughts, opinions, and gifts in order for a congregation to function in a healthy way. Pastors need to share and hear feedback from the body of believers, and the congregation must hear and share their thoughts with the pastors as well.

Am I neglecting the gift that is in me, given to me by the laying of hands (1 Timothy 4:14)? Am I unfairly expecting one, two, or three men to fill the place God called me to fill? Am I willing to soothe a wound, or sound the alarm when something is not functioning properly in my congregation? Do we as a congregation have a viable way for each member to exercise his gift? Are all members able to participate and have a positive impact within the body of believers? A body that is all hand, or all mouth is a handicapped body, unable to spread the Gospel, feed the flock, or grow spiritually.

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