Our Lives Together – Christ’s Body
Our Lives Together – Christ’s Body
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 28th March, 2021
Last week, Fiona shared her story of the last few months – her experience of walking through the dramas of her husband’s Andrew’s journey – with a potentially lethal heart condition – but also the process of healing that has begun. It has been a rocky path – but clearly God has intervened and the power of prayer cannot be denied.
Fiona testified to the encouragement and strength she has found during that time, by not only leaning into God Himself – but leaning into the body of Christ…. His church…. people of faith that she can depend upon, trust in, to stand with her and Andrew, and support them through prayer, and faith filled, prophetic words of encouragement.
Hopefully you know what that experience of being covered in prayer, and having fellow Christians surrounding you in faith, feels like. I know I do. Venese certainly does.
It’s a powerful thing! It’s a real sense of support that goes beyond the realm of friendship. It even goes beyond the realm of family.
The reason I’m bringing Fiona’s testimony up again, is because the foundational scripture that I want to share with you today speaks directly into our journeys of faith together, and contains a depth and revelation that I think many of us – myself included – have tended to gloss over.
Sometimes we have to read beyond the obvious implications of the word…. More often than not, the Holy Spirit has more to reveal – and it is usually a deeper revelation of God – and sometimes a deeper revelation of who we are – as sons and daughters of God.
My question for us this morning is this: Who do we really think we are as the body of Christ?
It’s a huge question – and I think it relates to the church universally – across all denominations. But scripture seems to suggest that the body of Christ is both the universal church – and also the local church. When Paul writes his letters – he speaks to the body of Christ on both levels.
With all that in mind, here are our main scriptures for today – firstly the letter written to the Romans:
New King James Version
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Put that on hold for a sec as we go over to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.
He’s talking about walking worthy of our calling, keeping the unity of the Spirit. He talks about one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. He speaks about the edifying of the body, equipping it for ministry, to come to a place of unity and the fullness of maturity in Christ.
And then he says of the church:
New King James Version
“…speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
We are still working towards a fresh reaching out to our community – using the resources, gifts, abilities, etc. that we already have.
But we should always be reminding ourselves of who we are as “Christ’s body” on earth. It’s only out of that revelation can we effectively reach the heart of another.
So here are some thoughts based around these two scriptures to the church.
Firstly- we are individuals – we are many members – and we all have different functions.
It’s actually this truth and this diversity that equips us to effectively become one.
And we need to celebrate our differences, not trying to conform each other to fit a certain mould – or to feel the pressure to function like someone else.
If I tried to function like Ben as Worship Pastor – 95% of you wouldn’t be here. The 5% left might be my family – if I’m lucky.
Or if I thought I should function like Dean on that electric guitar – or Cheryl as she plays the violin – both of them with such an anointing…
I wish I could – but it’s never going to happen. It’s not who I am.
But what I must be able to bring, is a fairly decent word on a Sunday. I must have some kind of leadership ability – even if it’s a different kind of leading to what some may desire.
I need to be confident in my unique function in the body and my individuality.
I speak for myself – but I’m also speaking for you!
Every one of you are unique, special, gifted, functional human beings.
You mightn’t always feel functional – we all have our moments – but the truth is you were born with purpose – you were born for more.
But it’s what happens when you contribute your individuality into the larger body, that things become exceptionally special.
Here’s the thing about that Romans scripture that got my attention.
It says that being many members, we are one body in Christ.
“In Christ” is the supernatural anointing component that gets added when we join together as one.
Aren’t you glad we are people of the Spirit? We are anointed in our personal giftings, but when we use those gifts to the glory of God as the church together – there’s a corporate anointing that ignites us as the body of Christ.
But then it says, we are individually members of one another.
What do other versions say about that?
“so we, who are many, are [nevertheless just] one body in Christ, and individually [we are] parts one of another [mutually dependent on each other].”
The Passion Translation
“And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.”
New Living Translation
“so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
The words that keep coming up in reference to being the body together are:
members of one another, dependent on each other, contributing to one another, belonging to one another, serving one another.
I don’t normally quote “The Voice” translation – only because I don’t know much about it – but what it says here is profound. It says, “Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.”
That’s profound. That’s a huge key right there.
We’re always better together. Always! We’re always more effective together.
And I know I’m preaching to the converted – but it saddens and distresses me in a way – that some Christians choose to walk the path alone. I’m not judging anyone else’s walk – I’m simply acknowledging that what we can accomplish as the body of Christ together, is far greater than what we can achieve on our own.
I also know my own need to be in Christian community – with a common desire to worship together, to grow in the Word together, to experience the Anointing, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit together. I know how much I need that. In fact, I can’t do without it.
I’m not ashamed to say, I need your encouragement, I need your edification, I need to be accountable to you – and I want to fulfil the calling on my life to serve you and support and encourage you – the body of Christ.
Shouldn’t that be the same for all of us?
Praise God, the journey isn’t over for any of us. The best is yet to come!
And just before we move to the Ephesians scripture – one of the most important things to note is that we are one body – In Christ!
There is a divine, supernatural unity and relationship that we share with one another. It’s the presence of Christ in our midst – binding us together.
We are individually and corporately in relationship with Jesus Christ and members of His body – which also means that we share a supernatural relationship with one another.
This is the church. It’s not a religious institution. It’s a living, breathing, powerful expression of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 3:15
New King James Version
“… I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and [a]ground of the truth.”
How often do we really think of ourselves as the church of the living God? We’re not just Seacoast Church. We’re not just a church amongst any other. As with all other churches who proclaim Jesus Christ as the Son of God – we also are the church of the living God.
How humbling is that?
Jesus gave His life for the church. There is nothing like it. There is no gathering of people, no club, no cause, that is as meaningful and beautiful – no other community of people who have been bought with such a huge sacrifice and cost – as the church – the body of Christ.
If you can take it or leave it then you can take or leave Christ’s expression of Himself on the earth – His body – His Bride…. His called out ones…
So then, now let me read that Ephesians scripture again:
New King James Version
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
We are all here as the body to grow one another up – in all things – into Jesus, the Head.
As much as you might feel like telling someone its time they grew uo – I don’t think that’s what this verse is saying.
It’s actually a call to all of us to serve one another with the gifts we’ve been given, to minister from a foundation of truth and love, to join in with and be united together with other members of the body so that we naturally and supernaturally grow together.
As we encourage one another – we give one another courage to be who we are – to serve in the things we love.
I was reading something that helped me to understand how we are all meant to be with one another.
It says – “I am part of you. You are part of me. I am like your eye or your ear of your hand or your foot. And you are like my eye or my ear of my hand or my foot. We are part of the body together. We serve one another in the way we are gifted and the way that we so easily function.”
Eyes see easily. They are built for seeing. Ears hear easily because they are built to hear.
We serve one another with these gifts and functions, and then as the body together we serve others. What we have isn’t for ourselves. It’s for one another and for others.
New King James Version
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Every one of you have grace upon your life – according to the measure of Christ’s gift. That’s what grace is – the gift of God – not earned, not striven for.
I feel like praying right now for Christ’s grace over us all – so that we can be the church we are graced to be.
“Dear Father in heaven, we sit here this morning is absolute awe that you would position us and call us as part of Your body. Your body. Help us to comprehend the depth of those words. We are Your body on earth.
And we pray for Your grace to flow through us – the grace to serve with truth and love – the grace and revelation to see ourselves as members of one another.
Father we repent of those times when we have taken Your body for granted – when we have let one another down – when we have fallen short as ministers of the gospel.
And yet Your grace draws us back. Your grace empowers us to be who you’ve called us to be.
Help us to be a gift of grace and love to one another – and together that we would be a gift of grace to our wider community.
For your word says:
The Passion Translation
“For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”
Help us Father to be that church, that we would grow up more and more every day, in Christ Jesus our Lord,
When I think about the call to serve one another with the gift of grace that we’ve been given, it’s not all going to happen on a Sunday morning in a worship service.
Some get to express their gifts and serve the body really well on a Sunday morning. But I think God has a bigger picture in mind.
I think He has a deeper connection and relationship in mind.
Most of us are going to have that opportunity to build one another up and grow one another up in a much smaller, more intimate setting than an auditorium full of people on a Sunday.
This is our celebration time – our corporate worship time – our coming around the Word together and finding common vision together as the church.
But a lot of what we are talking about today can most effectively be expressed in a smaller gathering..
I see those relationships growing in our prayer groups. The men who come together on a Wednesday morning to pray – some of them also meet for bible study, they meet for coffee, have breakfast together, listen to one another’s stories. They encourage and build each other up in Christ.
I see it in the women’s prayer and intercession group, in the bible study on Wednesdays. Bill and Julie have a group in Wollongbar. Megan facilitates a group for young mums and their little ones on a Friday – primarily for our own mums here in the body.
But if we are going to build this church on the foundations of gifts, service, edification, the way Paul encourages us to, then we need more of these kinds of groups to spring up.
It has to be by His Spirit – so let the Holy Spirit speaks to you about this. Can you facilitate a group? Do you have a home you could offer? It doesn’t even have to be every week. Life is busy. But there’s no denying, we need this level of connection if we are to be an authentic expression of Christ’s body.
I’ve experienced it in moments too when I’ve simply met someone for coffee, and we talk about God – about spiritual things – about our life’s journey. The Holy Spirit comes when we talk about Him and we invite Him into our everyday world and our conversation.The kind of connection I’m talking about might be only two or three people.
It is by His grace – but that doesn’t mean we remain passive in who we are – passive in serving with our gifts – passive in building relationships – and passive in ministry.
Do you know what we are doing as we build these places of connection and relationship? We’re making room for the presence of God. We’re building a habitation for Him. That’s the church!
New King James Version
“having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, (so here He is described as not the Head but the Cornerstone)
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
My whole point with this message this morning is to celebrate, to recognise, to acknowledge the sacredness and power and anointing within Christ’s body – His Church, and to not take it for granted.
My point is to validate every one of you as a vital individual – but also as a member of something much bigger. To shout out the truth and the reality that: “we become together what we could not be alone.”
And in the process of understanding that, help us to really be purposeful in what we do and what we say…
Ephesians 4 speaks about using words that are good for building up – words that give grace to those who hear them.
It also says that we should be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving…
Hebrews says to be considerate of one another, stirring one another up to love and good works…. Encouraging one another…
We’re to rejoice when others rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
I hope you get what I’m trying to convey.
I felt really humbled by being reminded of these things. I feel blessed to be part of Christ’s body. I feel blessed to be part of Seacoast. And if you are not from here normally, I hope you feel blessed to be part of the body where you live.
The church truly is a precious, holy, strong, enduring gift from Jesus.
However – I want to finish by acknowledging also – those who have experienced corruption and have suffered and been abused through their experience in church life.
Broken, wounded and sinful men and women have carried with them into the church a religious, unclean, perverted and corrupt influence that has nothing of the true character of Christ’s love and grace.
It’s being exposed. The darkness is coming to the light. And its effects are horrendous.
But that’s not the body of Christ that I’m exalting and edifying today. And I’m doing it to declare it prophetically and powerfully into the Spirit realm. I’m declaring the goodness of God over Seacoast Church. I’m declaring that we are committed to building one another up – building up the body.
We need to hold up over us the truth that we are the church of the living God.
We are members of one another – and we are together as one body – in Christ.
If there’s one thing I’d like to encourage us with – it’s to be purposeful in building relationships, opportunities to fellowship, to connect – that reflect Christ’s heart for His church. And to do it from the uniqueness of who you are and the gifts you carry.
As we close with communion this morning, I want to read a portion of the prayer that Jesus prayed to His Father, just before His crucifixion and resurrection.
This is one of the most beautiful and powerful prayers that has ever been prayed.
The whole chapter gives an incredible insight into the heart of Jesus for us. Us – His Church – His Body – sitting here this morning.
Listen to the words in light of the message that you have just heard:
The Passion Translation
“And I ask not only for these disciples,
but also for all those who will one day
believe in me through their message.
I pray for them all to be joined together as one[a]
even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one.
I pray for them to become one with us[b]
so that the world will recognize that you sent me.
For the very glory you have given to me I have given them
so that they will be joined together as one
and experience the same unity that we enjoy.[c]
You live fully in me and now I live fully in them
so that they will experience perfect unity,[d]
and the world will be convinced that you have sent me,
for they will see that you love each one of them
with the same passionate love that you have for me.”
I wonder if Jesus was thinking, as He looked towards Calvary, and as He prayed this prayer, that His broken body – His wounded body – would be the vessel of healing, the wholeness and the completeness, the unity and the glory – that would be poured out over His Church throughout the generations that were to come.
I don’t think we have to wonder. I’m sure that was on His mind.
He made the way for us to become one – to be joined together as one.
It’s the same oneness that Jesus envisioned for the church that He already shared in a place of glory with His Father.
How can we read this prayer and ever see the church in the same light again?
As we receive this bread and wine, let’s make it a prayer – that Jesus would supernaturally bring about this miracle of complete unity right now in our generation.
He is coming back for a glorious Bride, without spot or winkle.
If we align our hearts with Him – love as He loves – give as He gives – serve as He served – it will all become possible.
I encourage you to pray that prayer as you eat and drink right now.