As Christians, we understand that we are each part of the body of Christ. We understand that the Church is comprised of many parts that each has a special function. The Church is people. Each of us are different. Each of us are part of the body of Christ. We also know that Jesus Christ spoke of unity and prayed for unity. This is important.
Paul wrote that “we all belong to each other,” as translated in the New Living Translation. I love this translation. We all belong to each other. I think this helps us to get a better picture of unity. If we belong to each other, it should mean that we care for those who belong to us. Don’t you care for your belongings? If we belong to each other, it should mean that we treasure those who belong to us. Don’t you treasure your belongings? Don’t you treat what you own nicely because it is of value to you? If we belong to each other, that means that not only does a person belong to you, but you belong to the person. This speaks of humility, connectivity, loyalty, and so much more.
One of the biggest areas we struggle with is unity. Jesus spoke a lot about unity because He knew of the struggles we would have with harmony as a body. When you take a group of imperfect people and join them together, there will be problems. But what links us together is the Holy Spirit. If we allow the Spirit to move freely and guide our steps, we can live as if we belong to each other. We can seek out the best interests for our brothers and sisters. We can think more of our fellow believers. We can treasure those God puts in our lives and ask Him how we can bless, encourage, and strengthen them on their walk. We can live within the unity instead of trying to break out on top. Remember today, we all belong to each other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” – Romans 12:4-5 [NLT]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
This is the year both of my kids are in high school. When your children reach high school, things immediately change. They have somewhat figured out their gifts, their talents, their interests. They have selected activities and hobbies that they truly enjoy. It’s very different from the elementary years when they dabble in a sport for a year, only to not want to take it up the following year. I’ve been through baseball season, a few soccer seasons, and even a year of karate while the kids dabbled. Today, my son plays the trombone and my daughter runs. My son is musically gifted; my daughter is a dedicated runner.
Part of the school shopping this year included a new trombone for my son and running spikes for my daughter. They both have gifts in their respective areas, but they needed to be equipped with some items to help them get to the next level. My daughter just used her new spikes for the first time, and it was amazing to see the improvement in her run on the muddy mess of a course this weekend. She was equipped to do what has been placed on her heart.
God calls us each to do something in life for His kingdom. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God” (NLT). God qualifies us. God also places people in our lives to equip us to better serve for His glory. Ephesians 4 speaks of the responsibility people have “to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (v. 11-12 NLT). Today, consider who God has placed in your life. Does God want you to help equip them for service? Is the Spirit leading you to do something to help them? Are you enabling them to stay where they are at, when you could instead equip them for the road ahead? Pray about this.
Trying to figure out who you are is one of the hardest things to do in life. I remember when I was younger, it was a big question that would be bounced around in my head. Many people would ask what I had planned for my future. I remember the “are you going to college” and “what do you want to be when you grow up” type questions. Now my kids hear those same questions.
The truth is, we live in a world that tries to tell us who we are, and so often we listen. We listen when the world tells us what we cannot do. We listen when the world tells us what we are “supposed” to do in the eyes of the world. We listen to what the world says about how we should think or what we should wear. We constantly are listening.
All of the listening we do, we forget to listen to the One Who is Truth. We miss out on truly grasping who we are—a child of the King. As we are busy trying to fulfill the titles of mother/father, sister/brother, friend, co-worker, parent, teacher, doctor, cashier, drama queen, youngest child, cat lady, etc., we look in all the wrong areas to figure out who we are and what makes us and moves us and completes us. We don’t understand our place in the world or what defines us because we aren’t looking in the right place.
May today be a reminder for you—for who you truly are in Christ Jesus. As a believer in Jesus Christ, many things are understood about you. You are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14). You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16). You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). You are a saint (Ephesians 1:1). You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). You are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). You are a personal witness of Christ (Act 1:8). You cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). You have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14). You have access to God (Ephesians 2:18). You are united with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). My friends, THIS is who you are—now live it out!
During one of our evening walks, Marci started to bark like crazy. She saw something dark moving at a nearby house. She went into barking dog mode and it was hard to get her to calm down. Funny enough, she was barking at a black plastic trash bag that was blowing because of the great winds passing through the area. It did not matter how many times I tried to tell her it was fine, she continued fixated on what she thought was an attack.
I see a lot of “little dogs” going crazy at things observed—many times misconceptions, many times judgmentally rooted. The “little dogs” are those people in a church who point out what everyone is doing wrong. A big spoon of legalism is dished out. Oftentimes this is seen between people who have grown up in the church. A person from one denomination, raised with certain traditions, barks at someone else who has been taught that other traditions were more important, or that their traditions are the “right way to do things.” Possibly the barking dog syndrome is a result of someone becoming puffed up.
The Bible talks a lot about unity of the Body. The reason so much time is spent on this topic is because the devil will use anything to try to plant and promote division. The church can often get off course when Jesus is not the most important focus. Whether we are at church, at home, at work, at school—wherever we are at—Jesus should be the main thing. As well, if Jesus is the main thing, we should do whatever we can to promote the unity of the Body. This means the little dog syndrome should stop. Instead, let us love God and love others. May we build up instead of tearing down. The bag in the wind is not something on which to fixate.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3 [NIV]
There’s a phrase that I often hear from people when I ask them how they are doing. I guess I will say I am okay. It does no good complaining. No one cares anyway. Now for my complaint…
It really upsets me to hear people say things like this because I know that no matter what, someone cares. Always. And yes, complaining too much is a bad thing. The Israelites spent a lot of time grumbling in the Wilderness. But there are moments when we are upset and it is okay to verbalize our feelings.
I am currently reading the Book of Psalms. As I page through, again and again I read of the Psalmist crying out to God, pouring out his emotions. There is no holding back. There is nothing but pure, honest truth. And yes, there is some complaining. Today I want to remind you that God cares about you and EVERYTHING you are going through. And there are people in this world who care as well. Don’t go through your days not opening up and connecting. If you keep everything to yourself, then you are not really having a relationship at all.
“The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.”
-Psalm 38:5-8 [MSG]
When I was walking my dog this morning, there were tons of ants gathering together on the sidewalk. My dog Max decided to walk around the ants in an awkward way to be sure to avoid them all. It was quite humorous to see a 75 pound dog trying to avoid the tiny ants, but there is great strength in numbers.
Each of those ants is important. Each one added to the number and helped to make Max feel the need to avoid them. Each one played an important role. It is the same way with people. Each person is important. Each person has an important role to play. Sometimes we feel like we like a tiny ant, like we cannot make a difference or that what we are doing does not matter. Do not let yourself listen to those lies.
You are important. You are special. You are loved. And YOU are called to do great things. The biggest problem is that we think of ourselves as a little ant rather than as one of many ants—a large group of ants. We were created as communal beings and we are to be part of a community—one body—the body of Christ. You are not an ant. You are a child of God, a member of the Kingdom of God. And you, my friend, can do great things—great things through Christ.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” – John 14:12 [NLT]
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.” – Romans 12:4 [NIV]
My son has been playing the trombone since the beginning of the school year and it has been a very interesting time for me to listen to his practices. There are some songs where I can grasp the song that he is playing with only his trombone portion. There are other songs that get me a bit puzzled. It makes no sense to me because I am only hearing his part. Last night, I was blessed to hear the entire band perform the music as one, and the sound was beautiful and the songs that I did not understand became very clear. Each member joined together and the result was amazing.
We as Christians are one member of the Body of Christ. We each have a different role to fulfill in the Kingdom. We have each been made uniquely by God for His special purpose. We may not always understand our own purpose, and we may not comprehend the purposes of others as well. But as we join together with all of our differences, our unique gifts, our varying personalities, we are one Body. We make such beautiful music together when we are all playing our own part as God has designed. It is a symphony that only our great Creator could have written.
Today, don’t look at the differences in others and complain because you think things should be done your way or because it is difficult to join together and co-exist with someone so different from you, but see the beauty in those around you and encourage each other to fulfill the part God has called us to fill. God’s plan is perfect. Let us focus on His goodness and let us remember that every single one of us is important to God.