Finding My Significance in Christ and My Purpose in the Church
Notice how Paul sees a healthy self-assessment: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4 ESV)
What does a healthy self-assessment do? It moves us away from the morbid introspection and personal navel gazing that leads to isolation. In a sense, it takes our thoughts off ourselves entirely and places them on the opportunities to serve other people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.
The analogy Paul uses is very familiar but don’t let the familiarity keep you from hearing what he’s saying. He compares a healthy self-identity to a part of the human body. He calls them “members.” We don’t refer to our hand or foot as a member; think body part. Our bodies have an incredible assortment of parts and organs, all of which fulfill a dizzying array of functions, the vast majority of which we are completely unaware. The heart is pumping and the kidney is filtering, and the immune system is protecting and the intestines are conveying and the optical nerve is transmitting, etc. The human body is a masterpiece of interlocking parts functioning in complete harmony from the cellular to the pulmonary to the electrical. It is a perfect illustration of diversity of function and complete unity of purpose and objective.
What happens if just one body part ceases to see its role as important and goes rogue? Begins to think it’s really not that important or is jealous that it’s not a different body part? This is the point of a parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 12 where he envisions the eye saying to the hand, I don’t need you or the head saying to the feet, I don’t need you! All of a sudden, the eye realizes how important the hand is and the head how important the foot is. We have all pulled some muscle or had some unknown body part stop working properly and all of a sudden we realize how important it is! His point? “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)
He transitions from the illustration to the reality. The illustration of the human body’s parts shows how each of us are to find our place and significance in the context of belonging and serving in the spiritual body of Christ that is the church. It is the church universal and the church local. Your local church is the body of Christ, but then so is every other gospel-preaching church in your region and around the world.
How are we united? “So we, though many, are one body in Christ.” (Romans 12:5) The tremendous diversity is brought into unity in Christ. We have learned in Romans that “in Christ” is theological shorthand for union with Christ; this great doctrine of salvation whereby God through faith unites us with the saving works of Jesus in his death (for our sin), burial, and resurrection. Our union with Jesus is an ongoing reality. It means many things, but one big one is that not only am I united with Jesus, I am also united with everyone else that’s united with Jesus.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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