>The Whole Body

>When someone finds out I am a minister, there are 4 typical responses a person will have:

  1. A faithful Christian will joyfully share the story of his/her faith journey with me. We will talk about the Bible and how we have experienced the Living Christ in our lives.
  2. An atheist might begin to argue with me about the existence of God and ask, if God is real, why such terrible things happen in the world?
  3. An agnostic might tell me that s/he is more spiritual than religious. S/he claims to believe, but prefers to practice his/her faith privately.
  4. The Christian who comes for the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter will usually tell me why they don’t attend church regularly.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the third and fourth response. The Corinthian church tried very hard to live out their faith in a world much like we live in today. Corinthian citizens were individualistic and whatever belief they held was more a private matter. The people were known for great wealth and abusing the poor. Sound familiar?

Paul’s letter intended to instruct them how to live a more wholesome communal life. The Christian community is just that – a community. The Way of Jesus Christ is to live according to the faith, not as the culture does. Christ was counter-cultural and Christians should be, too. Our faith cannot thrive outside a Christian community.
Believers are not meant to be private or individualistic. As Paul writes to the Corinthians in his first letter to the Corinthians Chapter 12, we are individuals. We are individual parts of a body. It is one body of Christ with many individual members. When we are baptized, we are reborn in Christ. We are reborn with spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit to be used as part of the body of Christ. Each baptized believer with his/her spiritual gifts, together, we make up the body of Christ.

If the body of Christ is to be whole and functioning in the fullness of Christ’s power, we must all, all baptized believers, be using our spiritual gifts. Our gifts are to feed the poor, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and widows and orphans, provide funds necessary to provide food and water and clothing, and to teach and preach to the lost. These people are all the people that our society ignores and abuses. These are the people we are called to minister to with our spiritual gifts. In serving others, we participate in the Kingdom of God by imitating Christ’s service and use our gifts to serve others in a self-centered world.

My response to someone who doesn’t regularly attend worship will be, a response that you can use when someone tells you that they don’t participate in a faith community: your participation is needed.  Christ needs you to make His body whole. Unless we are all participating, we withhold from the world our ability to comfort and heal the people who need Christ. Unless we are serving others, we are hoarding the Good News.

Background information about the city of Corinth and its citizens was found in the New Interpreter’s Study Bible on pages 2035 – 2036.

May you find wholeness in the body of Christ,
Rev. Tracy

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