This is the final part of a series looking at the church today.
4. Body Ministry
The final reason why church is still relevant for followers of Jesus is because there is a Biblical mandate. The New Testament’s use of the image of the body of Christ provides more than simply an image of unity. It also gives a model of ministry for those within the Christian community. Paul makes use of the body metaphor in such a way it creates a sense of value for all believers.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:24b-27
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:15-16
In Paul’s estimation, there is a significant emphasis on Christian unity through Christ, but equally he is concerned with what that means within the Christian community. The body metaphor is primarily concerned with supporting every member of the church.
What this means for Jesus followers.
Firstly when a Christian detaches themselves from the greater Christian community, the whole body grieves the loss. The church has the privilege to invite Christians who have disengaged with the body of Christ back into participation with the body.
Secondly, the body metaphor is also a mandate to minister to one another. In essence this is a way that believers may encourage, support, pray, strengthen, celebrate and grieve together. It is how we are able to show care and concern for believers that we are in community with in much the same way that it is mentioned in Hebrews 10:23-25:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Why this matters.
Finally, body ministry is a testimony of Christian faith to those who do not believe. In other words, the church’s love for each other declares the truth about the God who redeems and reconciles. I believe that church allows Christians the best opportunity to fulfil the principle given by Jesus in John 13:34-35:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I am an introvert but it is impossible to love others when you are alone. Trust me, I’ve tried.