John F. Kennedy’s famous speech about civic duty is highlighted by the single quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” As Christians, we could ask a similar question about our roles in our communities, in our families, with our friends, and in our churches. What can we do to help support those around us?
We continue in our study of Ephesians with this note on our roles as parts in a single Christian body…
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT, Source: Bible Gateway)
Paul explains to the early Christians that we are all part of one united body. As such, it becomes necessary for us to ask ourselves ‘not what our church can do for us, but what we can do for our church’. We have to look around us and determine how we can best use our own talents and serve those around us who are also engaged in their own ministries. When we work together, as a body, we accomplish much more than any one of us could accomplish as an individual.
One of the greatest outreach ministries in our local community is YoungLife. Ever since high school, I have been a huge supporter of YoungLife in our communities. It gave me a very “real” look into the different types of Christians we have in our schools that you don’t necessarily get to see if the only Christians you interact with are the ones you see at church. I love YoungLife and encourage everyone to participate. That said, YoungLife’s stated mission is to reach out to students and, at least according to the leaders I’ve spoken with, to encourage them to go deeper which often involves the participation and support of the local church. Churches provide the atmosphere and means to go deeper than you can with a larger ‘seeker’ group. YoungLife, on the other hand, has the reach and accessibility to the schools that many local churches simply don’t have. Both entities have their strong-hands that, when brought together, form a strong backbone for local missions and ministry. If either group operated in a vacuum, YoungLife might not have the capability to reach the full spectrum of believers and the local church may not have the reach to touch everyone who needs to hear the Word of God.
Similarly, we as individual Christians exist as one body of believers and have to ask ourselves how our role supports, or hurts, those around us. Sometimes our talents may be best used in a capacity that isn’t immediately apparent to us. Other times our talents may be best used in the future rather than in the “here and now”. As we said in a previous week, we have to keep the main thing the ‘main thing’ and remember that our eyes, and our passions, are always focused on God. That means that sometimes the best way to grow is to think about what’s best for the entire body of believers rather than what may just be good for us.