Finding Transformers #3
7 PM, Tuesday, October 20, 2020
The Organic Church #03
The Church is One Living Body
“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
- Ephesians 1:22-23 -
Sunday Sermon on July 20, 2020
Nowadays, almost everything is changing. We need to learn to look and understand the world with a new perspective. But, don’t be too frustrated by this. Looking back at our life, we have learned well how to see and understand things at different stages.
As we all experience this new context of the pandemic, it is necessary to remind ourselves how to be a church and how to live as a church in the new context based on the Word of God. We must find how to live out our Christian life to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people who live in this new context of pandemic.
This is why we are going to think about the church for a while. I hope all of us can refine our understanding of the church carefully so that we can be a true church where we are right now and live out our Christianity faithfully with the people with whom we communicate everyday.
Last Sunday we talked about the church as an organic community. The core of the church as an organic community is the life of Jesus Christ This is because Jesus started His church with Peter’s confession to Jesus as Christ, along with the dedication to follow Jesus. Paul expressed this with his declaration that “I no longer live in me, but Christ lives in me.”
So, the important processes of the organic church, like any living organism, are Input and Output so that the organic church can be healthy and active to do God’s work no matter whether it is a local church or individual church. To keep the church in good health is not much different from keeping our physical body in good health.
Therefore, the most crucial task of the church is to keep the life of Jesus Christ alive, active, and leading enough to be our final decision-maker. Jesus must be the top authority and priority in our church. This is the core essence of the church as an organic community.
Today, we are going to look at the church as One Living Body described in Ephesians 4:11-16.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
From him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. - Ephesians 4;11-16
First of all, the church must be one, not two or three.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three but one. We are all different from one another, so we are many. But if we are all in One Spirit, we can call ourselves One. We might think about the same topic in different ways but if we are in one Spirit, specifically the Holy Spirit, we are all one in Christ.
Today’s scripture says the whole body is joined and held together with a variety of supporting ligaments. Colossians 2:19 says, “the whole body is supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews.” 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “the human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”
All these scriptures say that “as our body is one with many parts, so also is the church one with many different people.” So we as a part of the body should try to be one with others in Christ. This is one of core values that members of any church need to remember and put effort into.
This is the reason today’s scripture declares the head of the church is Christ. Have you ever seen a person with two heads? There are some unique cases but it is not common. For the most part, each person has one brain and thinks with his or her own unique perspective. The significance of being One church is that Christ must be the One Head. In other words, His Word and Thought must be the highest authority and the only One among many thoughts that may come from many members of the church. Then, we can be the true church God has dreamed from the beginning. We can do things together with one Spirit and do what God wants us to do through Jesus Christ as Jesus works through us.
Second, the church is a living body, not dead.
As we think about the church as an organic community, the church has something to keep it alive and active and powerful. That something is the life of Jesus Christ. John 1:14 says, “the Word became flesh and lives among us.” The Word of God, the Bible must be alive and living in us so that Jesus can speak to us, scold us, teach and correct us when we are wrong.
When we don’t listen to Him and don’t follow His Word, we are not obedient to His Word. But, we need to let Him speak to us, correct us, and teach us what we need to correct in ourselves according to His Word. When we do this, Jesus is truly alive among us and we are also truly alive as a church in the midst of the world. We are truly His disciples.
...Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).
Even if we have a church building, gatherings with church families, a variety of activities, services, and events, if we don’t listen to Him and follow what He said, or we don’t remember what He told us, we become a dead church because we don’t have the life of Jesus Christ.
COVID 19 has changed our understanding of the church, turning it upside down. We need to put ourselves under His authority and His Word more and more no matter whether we go to church or not. When we do this, we become a church right where we are. Often, the problem is we imagine we are smart enough not to ask Jesus His thoughts or seek His advice. We also have so many worldly resources to solve our problems by ourselves. We need to be more humble and less confident so we can ask God for His advice whenever there is a decision we need to make. In doing so, we can be a more faithful church and a good representative of God’s people wherever we are.
Third, the church must be one living Body.
One of my favorite metaphors of church is the Body metaphor. Paul uses the body to explain the organic structure of the church in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and Colossians 2. In Paul’s metaphor the church structure works like the body works.
Ephesians 4:16 explains how the whole body builds itself up in love.
In Ephesians, Paul talks about the church in the context of Christ giving individuals different gifts such as the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers. Despite different gifts, the body of Christ would be built up when we all reach Unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.
Paul similarly describes spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Although we are all different and unique, we need to remember that we are all parts of one body of Christ. This is a core principle of the church: many parts with one body.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
One of my favorite conversations in the Bible is the one among different parts of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:15-19 because the conversations are realistic and give a powerful message.
The foot can’t say, “because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” the ear can’t say, “because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. As it is, there are many parts, but one body (1 Corinthians 12:15-16).
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
Likewise, we are all different parts of one body. We need one another. We need to be connected and hold together. I hope and pray that we support and help one another to make One Living Body of Christ healthy enough to do Kingdom work.
Let Us Pray
Father, thank you for leading us to think about Your church as the body.
Lord, help us to remember we are many parts of the one living body of Christ so that we can keep connecting, supporting, and helping one another to be healthy enough to do what you have given to each of us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Questions for discussion:
How do you relate to the concept of the church as an organic, living entity requiring specific inputs to attain desired outputs?
The apostle Paul frequently compares the church to the human body. How does that apply to the church in our day?
Read John 1:14. What does this mean to you? What does it mean for the church? For humankind?
Read John 8:31-32. The world often sees the Word as a type of bondage. How does the Truth set us free?
Every part of the body working in harmony is essential to good health. So it is with the church. What is your role in the body of Christ?