In my last bulletin article I made the following comment: “Who we are and what we do begins in the body of Christ. Therefore, every decision we make must be grounded and conditioned by the calling, gifts, and the responsibilities Jesus places upon each man, woman, and child in the local church..”
The above quote is attempting to get at the centrality of the local congregation ought to have in our lives. I also used the question of what we choose to do for a living as one illustration of how disconnected we have become from seeing the local congregation as central to all we do: “For instance, imagine that Christ called you to be a hand in the local body. But what if you choose to make a living in the world with a job that takes up all your time and energy, so that you have no time and energy left to be and do what Christ calls you to be and do in the local body? Is it not possible to be faithful and successful to your career, but completely faithless and sinful in your calling to Christ’s local body?”
What we choose to do for a living is generally regarded as a deeply personal decision in which the fellowship of the local body of believers has absolutely nothing to contribute. Yet, the apostle Paul tells us: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-14). Our first priority in life is the building up of the local body of Christ.
In my more cynical moments I think to myself that such a notion that we are one body and each of us essential and integral to the life of one another is a pipedream. Oh, I know we speak a good talk of being family, brothers and sisters when we gather for worship on Sunday morning, but what does being members of one another mean realistically and practically? Being family surely means more than sitting in pews for an hour as we stare at the back of each other’s heads—does it not?
I recognize that the problem does not rest with members simply showing up to various activities planned by the congregation. There is a responsibility for the leadership of West Main to provide, stir, and lead every member to love and good deeds exercising the gifts Christ has granted each man, woman, and child of the West Main Church of Christ. Our leadership must seek to create the necessary space and opportunities for every member to obey the calling Christ has given them.
However, no leader of West Main can tell you what your gift is! So here is what I suggest: Demand from our leadership that you be put to work exercising the gifts Christ has given you! Pray with us for the imagination, will, and opportunity for you to be what Christ is calling you to be for the West Main Church of Christ. Then and only then can we say we are a body and not just carrying out a job.