Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. ( i Corinthians 12:27)
The Church, is the ‘body of Messiah’, the earthly vessel through which the LORD reveals and expresses himself in the here and now.Each born again Christian is a member of the Body.
What does it mean to be in the body of Christ? To be a part of a local church?
The Body is a brotherhood. we are part of a family. Belonging to a local church is taking your place in the family. We are to know one another, (which takes time and forbearance) and to develop bonds of love, through prayer, fellowship and bearing one another’s burdens. In this way, in a healthy Church, the Life of Jesus is communicated.
The Assemblies of God’s people, are intended for mutual edification. Every believer should come to church, with a heart open to share, testify, give a scripture, pray for a need, among the body of Christ. We strive to build each other up and to wash each other’s feet, spiritually. There is no clergy class, although there are gifted teachers and leaders, but everyone can share something, for the edification of the body, for all true believers have a measure of the Holy Spirit.
Someone may say, “…we don’t have time in our services for just anyone to get up and share what’s on their heart” but what about before and after the service proper? We are to know each other in the body, and be willing to be attentive to the needs one of another, and at least be qualified enough to pray for our brothers, and /or give an encouraging scripture.
This is life in Messiah. We know each other, and have real experiences of love, giving, sharing, encouraging, each other in the name of Jesus. The World really doesn’t know anything about this, but it is real wherever the body of Christ is real.
People have come to think ‘church’ is a professionally run, program driven, spectacle that they just attend. They flock to Churches which they believe are successful, (based on numbers, quality of programs, powerful speakers, and high quality Music). Some of these Churches are so big, it is hard to know anyone in them. It is possible to slip in, attend and still be alone or pretty much alone to go back to live the rest of your life.
This is not the ideal that Jesus had in mind when he founded the Church. Real Church is spiritually organic, relational, calling for Koinonia, (Total participation), designed to reveal Jesus, and to build us up in this world which daily seeks to tear us down.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. ( Ephesians 4:15-16)
The Body “edifies itself in Love”, ie the Love of God, and also the joints of the body, supply and hold together the members of the body of Messiah. This is Church.
Church is Spiritual. It the place where the Holy Spirit is working and flourishing. He is the one who gives us the power and the gifts to build each other up in love, and to stand together against the onslaughts of this world. I go to Church expecting to encounter the Holy Spirit in some form or another. I pray that the members of our fellowship stay full of the Spirit, and that the Sermons and songs,Hymns and Spiritual Songs we sing, will be inspired of the Holy Spirit.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will ( I Corinthians 12:7-11)
Everybody ought to leave Church different and better off than when they came. Church is life, whereas the World we live in is death. The life extends throughout the week, day after day as the Church prays for each other, edifies one another with teachings, verses, testimonies, gifts,( practical and spiritual). We bear one another’s burdens, and if one suffer, we all enter into that suffering. When one of us is exalted, we all rejoice. There is something so wholesome about this kind of environment to thrive, in, it is hard to express.
I wanted to just give a little snapshot of an ideal of the life in the body of Christ, what it should be, why it is a blessing, and why it is such a tragedy that so many have been denied this blessing, through Church Splits, dead lifeless Churches, Egotistical leadership, false doctrine, Churches that follow the Spirit of the age, etc.
No Christian should have to try and live out their life alone, with no one to pray for or to pray for them, no one to care for, or inquire of, no verses, encouragements, personal experiences of the gifts of the Spirit, the Charisma of the differing kinds of gifted believers. Jesus ordained Church, and we can all have it, in Jesus. You could say it is our (new) birthright.