This year, the Lord has been teaching me much about what it means to be the Body of Christ. This is one of the passages through which He has been doing this in my heart:
Ephesians 1:15-23 “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
God further used this Sunday’s sermon to develop what He is teaching me: http://www.gracepugetsound.com/sermons/Golike11-16-08.mp3
As our pastor, Scott Golike, pointed out, God’s people are God’s glorious inheritance! You and I are God’s glorious inheritance.
Here is a segment from the sermon: “Everything God has done in creating and bringing to pass in this history that you and I are part of has been for the purpose of redeeming a people for Himself. He loves and values it so much that it is His glorious inheritance the riches of which just in His mind overflow! God wants you to feel the way He feels about His inheritance. That is why Paul is praying over and over and over again that our eyes would be opened to see this and to know this and to get this!... I want us to have as a unifying understanding in principle…we’re not calling you just to come to the service faithfully. We’re not calling you just to help us make the program good and successful and just asking you to see if we can get more people to come. That is such a pathetic vision! We’re asking you to so value the Body of Christ that it shows up in your life, it shows up in your priorities, it shows up in your decisions, in what you do with your time and your money…do you love the Bride of Jesus, so that it is not words or talk…do you love His Bride?...[The church] is rich and glorious to God my Father and Jesus my King, therefore it will be rich and glorious to me.”
Pastor Scott then took us to Ephesians 5 to give us the image of the Church as the precious bride of Christ!
Ephesians 5:25-33 “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.; 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
He also directed us to Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders:
Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Jesus paid for the Church with His precious blood. His Church is that important to Him!
This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians 12: 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. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
All Christians are part of the Body of Christ, regardless of what local expression of the Body we call our church home. We are all united to Christ and to each other. We cannot cut ourselves off from one another without cutting ourselves off from Christ Himself. I wonder if we really, truly considered and believed what the Bible says of the Body of Christ whether that would change the we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—whether or not we go to the same church, agree with their theology, or have a natural affinity for them. How would it change the way that we are toward people who are part of the local body we call our church home? How would it change the way that we love sacrificially and without an agenda, the way that we pursue each other, the way that we don’t give up on each other even when things become inconvenient for us, the way that we forgive one another, the way that we serve one another, the way that we get to know one another, and the way that we allow others to get to know us with humility and transparency so that the glory of God may shine through our vessels of clay?
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for teaching me more and more what it means to be the Body of Christ. Thank you that I get to be a part of it. Help me to treasure it as you do and may that affect everything I do. May I treat all of my brothers and sisters in Christ as the very ones purchased by Jesus’ blood and who are counted His glorious inheritance! Help me to love more with all sincerity and truth. Help me to earnestly forgive and be gracious and merciful. Help me to seek out ways to serve and love sacrificially by your Spirit. Help me to speak truthfully with kindness in a way that imparts grace to the hearer and in a way that is obedient to you. I thank you for making me part of your glorious inheritance—not because I am good, but because you are good and I am yours by your work. Help me to be real, humble, and honest so that the world would see how great you are and how marvelous are the deeds you have done for me (even though I was poor, wretched, naked, and blind apart from you) so that they too may have hope in you! Give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you, that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which you have called us—the riches of your glorious inheritance in your people and the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe! Thank you. We love you. In Jesus Name, Amen
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