This blog was originally posted via That Girl
I’m not an expert on church. I only grew up partially in church, but most of my childhood, I didn’t attend. I didn’t as a young adult either. I just wasn’t interested and it didn’t seem necessary. What it DID seem to me was a place where I didn’t fit in. I thought it was boring. I thought I wasn’t good enough nor was I willing to pretend to be “good”. I didn’t look the part and didn’t act the part. I loved a good worship song or hymn, but that was where it ended. I loved God, but I didn’t think I needed church.
One day, however, I realized I did need church. When I realized how much I loved God and how much I wanted to be a part of who He was and what He did, I knew that those things happened in a church. Like many people, I church shopped. Most of them made me squirm for whatever reason. Sometimes, it seemed that I couldn’t find my niche in one church or another. However, it didn’t matter. I still kept going to church and reaching to become a part to a whole.
When I did, it was a stark contrast to whatever I thought it would be or ever treated it. I wanted to go! Now, I rarely miss Sundays. Even when I do, I’m not that happy about it. It’s not because I feel guilty or think I have to, but it’s because I’m part of a whole. When I’m not there, it feels like something is missing…me.
What is this whole, you might ask? It is the Body. When you have parts missing, things do not function as they should. Or if a part is not functioning healthily, the rest of the body has to make up for it as well as suffer. On the flip side, if the parts of the body are working healthy and together, the whole body functions as it should, consequently, reaching its highest benefits.
Paul likens the Church to the body and with good reason. It’s living and organic, not confined to theology, buildings, organizations, or denominations. It can show life and thrive as well as succumb to death and decay. This need to view the church as a living breathing body didn’t die off with the first century Christians. We, as part of the church, need to still treat it as such.
This starts with us, as individual members of the body. Not to remain individuals, though. But to come together with the common goal to glorify and embody Christ. This is only as powerful as we are willing to humble ourselves and build each other up within the church.
Relationships with one another play a vital role. Not only is it like adding healthy cells to the body, but it is also providing protection and growth to each other spiritually. Whatever church we find ourselves to be a part of was never meant for a certain few. It should always be a place where anyone who desires to follow Christ and become part of His body is welcome and should, regardless of how new they are or where they are at, be encouraged to find their function and become part of this whole.
The one thing that is detrimental to this is division. Division is the opposite of relationships and it is the opposite of the unity which Christ calls us to. This is dangerous and extremely unhealthy for a living breathing body. The hand cannot say to itself, I disagree with the foot and therefore am leaving. It hurts the whole body; not just the foot. Why do we do so in the church?
Maintaining healthy relationships while encouraging new ones is how a church grows, thrives, and is beneficial to the world. We do this by first humbling ourselves to serve the other; putting the needs of someone else before our own. Avoid assumptions of another person; make the effort to get to know them before you gather your opinions as to who or what they are. Avoid cliques; we all have our comfort zones, but we owe it to the next person to stretch ourselves a bit. Avoid gossip; if a matter is truly serious take it to the offender, otherwise, let it go and keep your mouth shut. Be inclusive; don’t box yourself in by only conversing, socializing, or serving with your friends at church. Be forgiving; be always ready to forgive and let it go. My mom used to ask me when I would complain about a sibling, “Will it matter 100 years from now?” I’ve applied that to many offenses. If it’s serious, then go to that person and be willing to reconcile. If it doesn’t matter 100 years from now, learn to let it go. Unforgiveness and grudges are poison to a church body.
Like I said from the start, I’m not an expert on church. But I do know that church should be a place where forgiveness, grace, acceptance, love, and kindness are in abundance. It should be a place where a person can belong, find purpose, and build relationship with Christ and each other; leading to, ultimately, in service to the world. It should never be a place where we simply go because it makes us feel “good” or because we want to be part of a social club. Most of us take care of our physical bodies so that we can grow, maintain health, and function at its best. We’re careful what we put into it. We avoid things that are harmful to it. We feed it, not starve it. What if we treated the church in the same way? I think we’d find that it would grow and thrive in leaps and bounds and one that ministers powerfully to a hurting world.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor 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 honored, every part rejoices with it. ~ 1st Corinthians 12:12-26