Part 4 of We Are the Church
Text: Romans 12:3-8
You can listen to this sermon here.
"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Rom. 12:4-5).
Church Is Not Optional
We’re sometimes guilty of downplaying our Christian duties. It’s sometimes said, “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” It’s true that we aren’t saved by going to church, but there’s a clear statement in Scripture that says Christians must meet together: “not neglecting to meet together” (Heb. 10:25). So church isn’t optional.
Watching a church service on TV or the internet is not an acceptable substitute for being a part of a church. The Christian life is meant to be lived alongside other Christians.
Like Parts of a Body
The apostle Paul writes that the church is like a body, and the members of the church are like parts of a body. How are church members like parts of a body?
1. As all the parts of a body are joined together to make one body, we all are joined together to make one church.
Paul writes, “We, though many, are one body” (v. 5). We are joined together as one body because we are “in Christ” (v. 5). Faith in Christ unites us not only to Christ, but to one another. But when any group of people get together—even Christians—disagreements happen. We naturally have self-centered hearts. Paul writes, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (v. 3). It’s not all about “me.”
The cure for self-centeredness is to remember the gospel—that God saves us by his grace through the death of Christ.
When Paul writes about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, he quotes Jesus saying, “This is my body” (1 Cor. 11:24). He then adds, “Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:29). The “body” in v. 29 is often interpreted as the church (i.e., the body of Christ). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are to remember Christ’s death for us and we are also to remember that we are to act like Christ within the church (something the Corinthians weren’t doing).
When you start to look down on others, remember the gospel. When you become consumed with your own needs and problems, remember the gospel. When the concerns of others don’t matter to you, remember the gospel. When you are struggling to forgive, remember the gospel. When you start complaining about other people, remember the gospel.
2. As all the parts of a body have different abilities, we all have different spiritual gifts.
Paul writes that we have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (v. 6). A spiritual gift is a God-given ability to be used to help others. The apostle Peter writes, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). We must have the heart of a servant, not the heart of a consumer. We shouldn’t really use the term “church shopping.” Don’t ask, “What can I get?” Ask, “What can I give?”
Paul adds, “Let us use [our gifts]” (v. 6). Paul said to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have” (1 Tim. 4:14; cf. 2 Tim. 1:6). You might say, “But I don’t know what my gift is!” Just do something. Eventually you’ll discover your gift(s).
3. As a body has one head, we all have one head: Christ.
Many times there are power struggles within churches. This kind of behaviour is totally opposed to how we are to behave as Christians. The one who is our leader is Christ: “he is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). The church is Christ’s church. He’s the one in charge. We follow him. And how does he want us to interact with one another? With humility and love.
We're Better Together
We might sometimes think that we’d be happier if we were on our own and not part of a church. But how could we use our gifts if we were on our own? And how could we benefit from others using their gifts?