I have been spending a great deal of time teaching on Ephesians 4. It is such a critical passage for the Body of Christ. When we talk about the Body of Christ, we are talking about His physical body. We are talking about the Church universal, all believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We are talking about our own bodies which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and then we are talking about our local churches. All of these are the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ must finish the work the Lord has given us to do. That is the church universal, our local churches, and individual believers just as the body of Christ finished the work on the cross. We must seek the Holy Spirit for He gives us strength. This means we must work hard to maintain unity in the Body of Christ. Again, that is anywhere two believers are gathered together. Fighting and arguing with other believers is the delight of Satan. Today, I want to finish this teaching on the Body of Christ. Starting next week, I will be teaching on Real Love and what that is. I hope these are meaningful to you. Be sure to share them with anyone the Lord lays on your heart as you read.
The final step for the Body of Christ to finish its work so that we will endure the suffering and take part in the glorious resurrection one day is to build up one another in love. Our local church does not exist in isolation, neither does our denomination. We must help local churches who are following Christ when we are able. The church in the US has been very blessed financially and we have used this blessing to send the Gospel all over the world. Now, the church in the US is in decline and those other nations are now sending their own missionaries back to the US. This is the Body of Christ and we must love it.
And if you want to grow up, endure the suffering without letting it win, you must love the church. I know that we always say that you don’t have to go to church to get to Heaven and this is true. But that is your afterlife. Your right here and now is important to. If you don’t grow in your faith right now, the issues of this life can steal your faith. Remember the parable of the sower. Jesus spoke of some seed falling on rocky ground. These represent people who first come to the Lord, but when trouble or persecution comes, they fall away. How do we and how can you ensure that the trouble and persecution that will come to all believers as we stand for Christ will not cause you to fall away. Well…the answer is loving the church, building one another up. As you build others up, your own spirit will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. And as others build you up, support is established to help one another through the hard times. This is what the Body of Christ is supposed to do and each of us must love the Body.
Going to church, singing the songs, and listening to the preacher does not necessarily build up the body. Love is an action and if we are to love the Body, we must act in love. At the very least, say hello to people at church. Give them a handshake or perhaps a warm hug. Don’t walk into church with a negative attitude. That just brings others down.
Even though you can go to church and not love the Body, to some degree just being in church loves the Body. When people see that many people are gone from church, it is disheartening. It does not give us courage, but it discourages. Did you know that people who were considered ‘good attenders’ to church used to miss church one to four times a year. Church attendance has become so sporadic that a ‘good attender’ misses no more than twice a month, 24 times a year. Wow, have times have changed and perhaps this is why we are seeing Christianity decline. We are not doing the work of the Body. Jesus went around preaching, teaching, healing, loving. We are wrapped up in our own lives too much now. Could it be that we are not growing, getting stronger by building one another up, and when the storms come, we are tossed back and forth by the wind and waves.
To really love the Body, we should get involved. Volunteer somewhere in the Body. Work with children helping them to grow in their faith. Work with the youth. They may be the most vulnerable of all demographics of falling away from the Lord. Be greeter or an usher. You can smile or set up chairs, can’t you? This is how we love the Body.
There are some neurological diseases that will suddenly cause one part of our body to stop functioning as it should. A saint in our church is right now progressing in his Parkinson’s disease. His hand shakes violently all the time. He has debilitated him significantly.
The church is the same way. When one of us chooses not to grow spiritually, it affects all of us. When one church gets far from the Gospel such as Westboro Baptist Church, doesn’t it affect how unbelievers view the church? When a well known preacher is caught with a prostitute, it hurts the image of all churches. As the Body of Christ, it hurts our reputation with the unbelieving world.
Let me finish this teaching with this. If you want to live a life that changes the world one person at a time, you must become part of the Body of Christ. If you want to overcome all of the suffering and pain of this life and keep your peace, joy, and love, then work for unity in the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. And finally, if you want to finish the work God has prepared for you, actively love the Body of Christ. Don’t just go to church. Be the Church. Build one another up in love. Volunteer to help others to have positive experiences at church and grow spiritually themselves.
But if you want to live a defeated life, without power, without strength; if you want to live a life that does not change the lives of people around you for the better, then make church, the Body of Christ, a low priority in your life. Rarely go and when you do, just sit there and don’t help or love on those around you. Make sure to argue and fight with other believers over things that have no eternal bearing. All of these will help you to be overcome and overwhelmed without hope.
Don’t be defeated. Be strong. Overcome. Help others to do the same. And for goodness sake…love the Body of Christ. The Christian struggle is not about you personally overcoming. It is about all of us together helping one another to be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (ESV)
“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (ESV)
Heavenly Father, draw me away from myself. Many times, it is easy to turn into myself rather than focusing on loving others. Remind me each day Lord that You have put me where You want to use me in the lives of others. Keep my eyes open for the opportunities to serve You ministering to others. And let me not be prideful that I would not listen not consider Godly counsel from others. Teach me to love the church, which is Your body. Let me love those who are easy to love the same as those difficult to love. And may we all grow together. -Amen
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