Friday, December 14, 2012

If We Are The Body.....

              This morning, many of us in this region of the nation, are saddened by the loss of a young child, who was the love of his mother’s life. We have been praying for this family, and our heart goes out to this family as they suffer the loss of their son. Many of us do not know this family, but our hearts are burdened by the loss of an only child at this time of year. As I was praying this morning for this family, I was reminded of a scripture passage in 1 Corinthians that invokes us all to remember we are part of one body. There are no divisions in the Body of Christ; we have all been placed by God, right where we are. It does not matter what denomination you are, whether you’re are Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic or Protestant, the name we put on our church building is only that, a name. Who we are is the body of Christ. We are a much bigger body than we realize.
                1 Corinthians 12:12-14 tells us, “For the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks (we would insert denominations here today) whether slaves, or free-and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” Paul did not write to us that we would be many parts of a disconnected body. What he tells us is that we are all members of a body that is connected, it is a family. No matter where you go to church or what denomination you put on your hospital form. We are members of Christ, His body, His Spirit, His church.
                Paul goes on to tell us that the body cannot function correctly unless the whole body is working together. Not only are we to work together, no matter our denomination, we are to suffer when one member suffers, and rejoice when the members rejoice. “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26) We, as the body of Christ are to be bearing the burdens of our fellow members, no matter what church they attend. In Galatians 6:2 Paul tells us that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens...”  The word bear means to support, to carry one’s person, to bare suffering on behalf of the others.
                If you see someone struggling with lots of heavy baggage, or bags, your instinct is to assist them, isn’t it? Even non believers have the instinct to help out when someone is weighed down with heavy baggage. When a brother or sister in Christ is suffering or struggling under a heavy load, we are to desire to assist them, we are to help take some of the burden from them and put it on ourselves. If we are the body of Christ, then we should be reaching out to help the other members of the body which are weak and burdened down- no matter what their denomination is.
                1 Corinthians 13:7 sums up for us what the body of Christ should look like to the outside world. They should not see us as divided, but as united. They should look to the Church and see love, true love, because love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Do you bear the burdens of others? Even those of us who do not personally know this family that is facing the hardest suffering of all, losing a loved one, we as the body should be pouring out our prayers, our love, and offering to them any and all compassion that we have within us, we should be reaching out to that part of the body that is hurting. When we do this, we will have fulfilled the law of Christ, which is to love one another, just as Christ loves us.
                Throughout the book of Acts you see the church, as a whole, helping one another, through financial assistance, food and clothing assistance, whatever the needs were, the church as a whole would extend what they had been given by God to those who were in need. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul, neither did any of them say of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” (Acts 4:32) Imagine if we, as the body of Christ would stop focusing on what and start focusing on whom-the body of Christ. Maybe we would begin to impact the world in such a way that revival would begin in our nation. If one member of the body is suffering, then we all too should be suffering with them.
                Paul was telling us that when one suffers, we all suffer with it because we are all connected. We all have one thing in common, and that is Jesus Christ. When we get to heaven, there will not be Baptist on the left and Protestant on the right, we will be one, in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. We have all been given spiritual gifts, and they are to be used to help the body, to encourage, exhort and grow the body of Christ. When one member is hurting, our gifts are to be used at these times as well as at church on Sunday. Use the gifts God has given you for the purpose He gave them- to edify His church, His whole Church.
                I must tell you that the outpouring of believers who are praying for this family is overwhelming, and to see the body working together, despite the denominations, is wonderful. And, that my Christian friend, is what being in the body of Christ is all about. Let us put aside what church we attend and begin to be the body of Christ, united in One Spirit, One Baptism, One Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For in this we fulfill the law of Christ Jesus, to love one another, for love is the more excellent way. Amen and Amen.