June 23, 2019
So, “Body Building.” Of course, that has to do with “building muscles,” “Pumping Iron,” and “Hittin’ the gym!” In recent years, the “improvements” of our earthly bodies has become a big industry. (or “maintenance” or “renovation,” as the case may be!) There has even been a big growth in the “24 Hour Gym” industry, which I don’t get, but I guess there are enough second and third shift people in the world to make that a go!
I’ll tell you one thing, though. And I’ve often thought about this. I’d like to buy stock in those gym companies. But! I want to buy it in January – right after the “indulgences” of the Christmas season, and the “Resolutions” of New Years. That’s the time to buy! But then I want to sell at the end of January, when everybody has pretty much given up! That’s the strategy!
I used to go to the gym. And that’s a good thing to do. The good Lord gave us these bodies, and I’ve always believed it’s a good thing to take care of them! Paul said our bodies are the “temples of the Holy Spirit.” (I Corinthians 16:19)
But I’m not talking about that today – except by metaphor. I’m talking about building “the body of Christ,” which, as you know, is another name for “the Church.” We are all the body of Christ here on earth.
I once heard, and I believe it’s true, that the origin of the words “body” and “members,” had to do first with the Church and it’s members. And then later those words were used in terms of the anatomy of our body and our arms and legs. We think Paul borrowed those words from from anatomy, but it may well be the other way around.
Well, whichever came first. It is a good analogy! And we hear it in our scripture for today. Paul is explaining how the Church works, and he says this. “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
Notice first that all those special things that people can be – apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers – their purpose is to “equip the saints” for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ. And who are the saints? They are all of us! We are all saints! And what is the work of the saints? It’s “the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ.” Paul is very clear about that. As I said last week, all of us do the work of ministry. We can’t leave it to leaders! It doesn’t work that way. (And literally it doesn’t work!)
So, either it’s the actual work of the ministry – committee work, or buildings and grounds, or whatever – or it’s the even more important work we’ve been talking about – the loving and upbuilding of one another – that work, the work of the church is for all of us! It’s for all of us saints!
The other thing here is that Paul is talking about “Gifts.” He’s saying that using the gifts God has given us all is how we build the body of Christ. And as we think of our officers, I think we can make the distinction between what we might call “unique gifts,” and the “universal” gifts that we all have. “Unique gifts” are the ones we just read about. They are specific. Not everybody can be an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, or a teacher. But it’s all of our jobs to use the “universal gifts” – the gifts we all have, the gifts of love and encouragement and forgiveness. And we use those gifts as we support and work with and pray for those we elect today to be our leaders!
Paul goes on to tell us that here. He says, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.”
So, “Speaking the truth in love,” “Each part of the body working together, making bodily growth,” “Upbuilding one another in love,” that’s the work of all of us! And again, he’s talking about the way we live our lives. That is, he’s talking about the way we choose to live our lives, the way we shows the love of God among us. That’s how we build the body of Christ.
The question is, “Do we?” And that’s not a one-time question! That’s something we need to be “checking in on” all the time. That’s something we need to grow in doing! If you’ve noticed, this is something I’ve said a lot. And lest you think I’m saying it only to you, please know that I ask it of myself a lot, too! Am I showing the love of God in the way I live? How can I do better? I encourage you, each day you open your eyes, to make a conscious decision to show the love of God, that day!
We are all part of the body of Christ. Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 12. “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.” We are all part of the body. And yes, we may not all be leaders. But no one can say they are unimportant or unnecessary in God’s kingdom – in the body of Christ.
And so, as we go to a time of electing our officers, let me give you Paul’s words again.
“And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,” and what’s their purpose? “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” And how do we build the body of Christ? “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.”
Eternal God, help us all this day to know that we “are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.” Help us to have the strength we need to choose to show your love to the world in the way we live this life.