9. Be who God has made you to be

Short Meditations on the Body of Christ:  9. Be who God has made you to be

Rom 12:6    We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

If churches have problems, one of them is that so often we try and cast everyone in the same mould. Now in one sense that is right for we are all being shaped into the likeness of Jesus (see 2 Cor 3:18) and as far as morals or ethics are concerned, that should be true, but the greater reality – and you see this in all of Creation – is that God loves diversity.

The apostle Paul touched on this in his famous chapter on the different parts of the body – and we will consider that more fully in the next meditation – when he speaks of us as different parts of the body: The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” (1 Cor 12:12) and he goes on in his analogy to speak of the foot, the hand, the eye, the ear and he goes on, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Cor 12:18,19)

Note, “God has arranged.” The Lord gifts us, He gives us different abilities according to His grace (His Holy Spirit’s enduing with power to act in specific ways). Regular readers will know one of my favourite verses in the New Testament is, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) We are what we are because God (through Jesus reigning at his Father’s right hand) through His Spirit, has brought us into being with different personalities, different gifts, abilities, desires etc.

Writer Gary Chapman in his “The Five Love Languages” suggests our different preferences for the way we show or receive love, or there is Patrick Morley’s, “The Six Worship Languages” that goes right back to Gordon MacDonald’s “Six leading Instincts of the Soul”, which is opened up even more by Gary Thomas’s “Sacred Pathways: Discover your Soul’s Path to God”. All of these writers grasp at the same thing – we are all different. (This has even been taken into ‘Learning Styles’ although this has been questioned by some).

Perhaps a personal application: the Bible thrills me, I come alive with it. Prophecy and preaching bless and thrill me. Worship, I long to go deeper with a greater reality. Prayer, I’m limited. Evangelism, I love sharing with those who want to know and although I have brought a number to the Lord, I grieve that it is so few and long to be gifted, but I am not. So how about you? What thrills you in the Christian life? Build on that. What gives you a buzz? Develop it.

1. The Church, his body

Short Meditations on the Body of Christ:  1. The Church, his body

Eph 1:22,23   the church, which is his body

Some today may take this concept for granted, but for others it is either new or foreign. I can remember the first person I heard teaching on ‘the body’, an itinerant preacher called Campbell McAlpine, and it was back in the closing decades of the twentieth century. Since then, through the charismatic movement in those same decades, its teaching filled out some more, and yet it is, I believe, as relevant today, if not more so in a day when frequently it appears ‘church’ or ‘religion’, that fills so many TV channels, is presented so often by suited men in expensive settings, conveying a religion that is ‘success’ and ‘try harder’ orientated, a poor reflection of the wonder of what is conveyed in the New Testament.

Perhaps we try too hard and on the world’s terms, and then wonder why in the West at least so many denominations continue to diminish with their obituaries being prophesied by the pollsters. The church is not big buildings or big organisations, it is not TV stations or radio studios, it is not individual ‘big people’ with big incomes and ‘big ministries’, it is all the believers who, corporately, and to use the concept we are going to follow and meditate upon from the New Testament, are referred to as ‘the body of Christ’. In fact, as we go on in the days ahead, we will see that every single, humble believer is a member or part of this ‘body’.

Now right from the outset, let’s state what will become obvious as we look in detail at what the New Testament has to say, that the picture of ‘a body’ is used to convey thoughts about the life, action and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are two other concepts that are used to refer to the church in the New Testament. The first is ‘a temple’: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16 etc.) and that is all about revealing the glory of God. The other picture is of a bride (Rev 19:7,8, 21:2) which is all about being united with Christ at the end.

But the concept of the ‘body’ is all about doing: “when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me… Then I said, `Here I am… I have come to do your will, O God.” (Heb 10:5-7) The ‘doing’ is the will of God. We see it in the Gospels as, through one single human body, Jesus served the will of God as he brought in the kingdom of God on earth, and then the teaching of US being his ongoing body being worked out is seen in the rest of the New Testament. Put aside all thoughts of buildings, organizations etc. YOU, the believer, are part of this body.