Growing as THE BODY OF CHRIST

1        THE PRINCIPLE OF BODY LIFE

Romans 12:4-5 says, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “Though a body has many parts, all its parts form one body. So it is with Christ. Ephesians 4:11–12 says, “Christ gave gifted people to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” As individual parts of the body exist for the whole, so individual members of the body of Christ exist for the whole.

Romans 12:5–8 says in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If our gift is prophesying, we should prophesy; if it is serving, we should serve; if it is teaching, we should teach; if it is encouraging, we should encourage; if it is giving, we should give; if it leading, we should lead. This is the principle of body life and it leads to…

2        THE PURPOSE OF BODY LIFE

The purpose of body life is seen in Ephesians 4:7-16. Here, Jesus gives spiritual gifts so that his body might have a continuing presence on earth. Verse 7 says, “To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned.” Everyone has at least one spiritual gift. These gifts come to us indirect­ly through Christ’s work on the cross, and more directly through his Spirit.

These gifts are to build up the church. Ephesians 4:11–16 says, “Christ gave gifts 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 become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of 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.” This a brilliant picture of the body of Christ in action. As Individuals grow spiritually, they also grow as a body.

God wants us to grow as individuals. But he also wants us to grow as a body. The Lord does not want loners in his church. When we stay away from church, we displease the Holy Spirit, we deplete our resources, and we deal a deathblow to the body of Christ. Some will say a physical body can function without some parts, and it can, but not effectively. This leads from the principle of body life and the purpose of body life to…

3        THE PRACTICE OF BODY LIFE

We all have at least one spiritual gift from God. These gifts are not primarily for personal edifica­tion. They are for the whole body. Ephesians 4:12 says God gives gifts for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. In team games, individuals use their gifts for the benefit of the whole team, and for the good of the game. God has given each of us gifts to be used in his body so that we might be more effective.

Some say they do not have much to offer, but even an eye needs a little finger to remove the dirt. Every ear needs a voice, and every foot needs a toe. Everyone has a contribution to make. Ephesians 4:16 says the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

It is interesting that none of the passages we have looked at speak about discovering our gifts. They talk about using our gifts. This may suggest that whatever gift we have will be obvious to us and to the church. A talented person in art, music, or sport does not have to discover their gifts. These gifts are evident, and they will emerge.