Have you ever had a part of your body that suddenly didn’t work right? You wake up in the middle of the night with a charley-horse (and where the heck did that name come from?) Or a tooth starts hurting? Or a thousand other things.
Believe it or not, but that happens to the Church all the time.
A second metaphor the Bible uses to describe the Church is a Body. We call ourselves the “body of Christ”. The apostle Paul got great mileage out of this idea, first in Romans 12:3-8, but then more fully in a wonderfully dense theology riff in 1 Corinthians 12.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (vs. 12). Paul then goes on to imagine the “foot” feeling sorry for itself because it doesn’t function like the “hand”, or the “ear” being jealous of the “eye” and feeling unimportant, or the “eye” feeling all full of itself thinking it doesn’t need the other parts of the body.
Talk about your self-esteem builder! Paul’s point can’t be more clear – each person in the church has a special uniqueness and value to the community, because he or she has been placed there by God with a very specific assortment of gifts and abilities to share.
This points to a second reason why I need to be involved in a local church: it helps my service to God grow through ministry.
Each person in the church has a special uniqueness and value to the community, because he or she has been placed there by God with a very specific assortment of gifts and abilities to share.
I’ve always been blown away by the fact that God wants to use us. God wants us to work with him as a sidekick. If the human race had never fallen into sin, God still would have shared labor with us. Our marching orders were to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Which in my mind means had we not rebelled against God, we still would have built cities, composed music, discovered electricity, sailed the oceans and flown into outer space.
Now that God is hard at work rescuing the earth from its sin, bringing it back into fellowship with himself, it doesn’t surprise me at all that God wants us to share in that great work with him.
How can being a member of a local church family help me with this? The church is my training ground for ministry. You don’t go off to seminary to get trained for ministry. If you’re a part of a healthy church, you’re being trained for ministry right now. Seminary exists to fine tune what you’ve already started learning. But the learning begins now.
All the gifts I use now as an ordained minister – preaching, teaching, worship leading, small group facilitation, youth ministry, counseling, administration – each and every one of these gifts was conceived and brought to birth in the womb of a local church family.
Growing up having godly Sunday School teachers and caring youth leaders and wise pastors and loving parents, all of these prepared me for ministry far more effectively than getting a Master’s of Divinity degree.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t be a charley-horse.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.