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Members of Christ Body

Romans 12:1-13

Jim Davis

There is nothing on earth more functional than a human body. It is beautifully balanced and most delicately articulated instrument the world has ever seen. All the computers in the world put together cannot do what a single human body can do when it is functioning properly. Our bodies are finely tuned. Each body has its on pharmaceutical factory secreting its own drugs as needed. The body can produce its own antibodies to fight diseases. We know it also produces many other drugs of which we aren't aware of as yet. It would take many scientists to explain all the functions of my body, which are taking place as I stand here this morning. It will run so smoothly, it won't interfere with what I wish to do. It's a finely tuned machine; it seldom misses a beat. My body fully cooperated with me when I decided to get ready to come to church this morning.

The church is the body of Christ. "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV) Almost every time the church is spoken of as a body in the New Testament, reference is made to the functional aspect of the church. In these verses Paul speaks of the fullness of the body and how Christ fills the church. The church is a living organism Christ fills to function on his behalf. Here we see the functional aspect of the body of Christ.

Romans 12:1-5
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (NIV)

Paul is concerned about the functional aspect of the body. The body of Christ has many members functioning in various ways. Obviously each member of the body has a special function to fill.

Up until this point in Romans Paul has been talking about what God has done for us in salvaging our lives. But now he turns to the practical aspect of Christianity giving us insight as to how we are to function in Christ. How do we begin to fill our God given role as members of the body? Paul begins answering this question in this chapter.

Dedication Essential to A Functioning Body (Romans 12:1-2)

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

A few years ago I was into cameras. Then most of the flashes for cameras were bought separately. The question you wanted answered before you bought a particular flash was, "Is the flash unit dedicated to my particular brand of camera?" If the flash wasn't dedicated, it would either not function at all or would not be fully functional. A dedicated flash was one made to fit your particular brand of camera in a fully functional mode; it was compatible to all the features the body of your camera offered. If the flash was a dedicated flash, it formed one fully operational unit although it was made up of two distinct pieces. It was essential the flash be dedicated to your camera if you wished to take advantage of all the program features the body of your camera offered. Thus, it was called a dedicated flash.

Likewise in Romans 12 Paul is concerned about members of Christ being fully dedicated to Christ body in a fully functional mode. The body of Christ is made up of many parts, which are designed, to work in sync with every other part. To be fully functional in the body of Christ, we must get in sync with Christ as we renew our minds to transform our lives to be like Christ. If we are out of sync with the body of Christ, we must remember there is a place for each of us in the body where we can be fully functional. "In fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." (1 Corinthians 12:18 NIV) God has made a place for each member of the body to be fully functional and dedicated. This is God's way of telling us the body of Christ needs each member.

The way we get in sync with Christ body is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. We must remember God has assigned each of us a place in the body of Christ and we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice when we dedicate ourselves to fill the role God has assigned us.

Romans 12:4-8
Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (NIV)

We cannot all fill the same role, but we can fill the role God has given us.

To Function Properly We Must Think Soberly

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (NIV)

I think most of us know what it means to be sober --- it is to think rationally. One of the hindrances to thinking rationally is to get an inflated view of yourself. All of us know what happens when others get an inflated view of themselves --- it is the same thing that happens to you when you get an inflated view of yourself.

What if you woke up one morning with your big toes sticking out of your eye sockets and your eyeballs were attached to where you big toes once were? If they could talk, you would ask them what they thought they were doing only to discover that sometime during the night your eyes and big toes had decided to exchange places.

Try to imagine how you would function if this occurred. First of all you have been awakened because of this excruciating pain coming from where your big toe used to be. You know how tender the eyeball is. Well the eyeball has a sheet wrapped around it and it is hurting. So you blink your eyelid to try to correct the problem but the eyelid decided to stay put over the eye socket and it can no longer protect the eye. So when you blink your eyelid to relieve the pain of the eyeball one big toenail has a hangnail and it real hurts every time you blink, it feels like you have a log in your eye. So as you kick your foot to get the sheet off the eyeball to relieve the pain, the pain just intensifies. So you jump out of bed and black your eyes as they hit the floor trying to be your big toes. It hurts so bad you try to keep your eyeballs from touching the floor as you walk and you fall flat on your face and stump both of your big toes, which are sticking out of your eye sockets. You see your big toes are responsible for 80% of your balance when you walk. So you manage to get up off the floor, but you try to walk on your heals to keep the pressure off your blackened eyeballs. As you swing your right foot around the end of the bed, trying not to stump your eye on the end of the bed, you swing your foot out a little too far and bust your eye on the corner of the dresser because your big toes can't see where your eyes are going.

So you sit down and have a talk with your eyeballs and your big toes to persuade them to get back in their assigned roles, but both are adamant about staying where they are. Their refusal to function in their assigned roles affects the whole body's ability to function properly.

Sometimes one of the hardest things to do is to get someone out of a position they have coveted but are not qualified to fill. Allowing them to stay there makes the body ineffective, and getting them out disrupts the whole body for it is a matter of major surgery. We must remember Paul's admonition to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 12:18-22
But in fact God has arranged 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, (NIV)

1 Corinthians 12:26-27
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)

We can begin to see why Paul is asking us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice that we might become fully dedicated in the role God has assigned each of us.

The Motive for Functioning Properly

Romans 12:1-5
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. In Romans 8:28 Paul says that God loves us and has called each of us according to his own purpose. This is the motive for finding our place in the body of Christ.

" . . . In view of God's mercy . . ." is the motive for getting in sync. Living out of gratefulness for what God has done for us in salvaging our lives is the greatest motivation for getting in sync. The living sacrifice Paul is asking us to make has to do with dying to self and rising to live with Christ. The living sacrifice has to do with abandoning ourselves that we might serve the body of Christ. It is more involved than just dying to self, it entails living for others --- hence we become a living sacrifice. This living sacrifice becomes holy and acceptable to God in our spiritual worship.

If Christ is filling the church with his fullness, then we must serve each other as he has served us. Our world is pressing many of us into its mold by encouraging us to trust in ourselves and exploit others. Paul tells husbands and wives to serve one another in the same way Christ served the church: " . . . Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Ephesians 5:25b-27 NIV) It is also a great example of how we are to serve the church. Paul said, " . . . so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Romans 12:5)

Discovering Our Role in the Body

Whatever the position God is calling each of us to fulfill is not an inferior position. It is not always easy to figure out how God wants you to function or what part you are supposed to play. We usually discover where God wants us by trial and error. To launch out and find the role God is asking us to play, we must first realize there is a position for us in the body.

1 Corinthians 12:22-25
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 combined the members of the body and has given 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. (NIV)

The roles the first century Christians filled give insight to the roles that we can fill. As we look at these roles, we begin to realize these are things necessary to cultivate hearts for the reception of the Word.

Romans 12:6-8
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (NIV)

There is a spiritual role God wants you to fill. In Acts 6 the Grecian Hebrew widows were being neglected as they distributed the daily necessities. The apostles helped in the situation by assigning members a functional role in the church.

Acts 6:2-4
So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." (NIV)

When the roles were assigned to those members it freed the apostles to give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. Paul wrote to Timothy saying, " . . . And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Tim 2:1-2 NIV) Do you see how the word multiplies? It multiplies as people begin filling their spiritual roles in the church.

I was communicating with a friend in Oregon by email awhile back. He had spent some time going around to churches teaching members how to set up small group studies in member's homes. I asked him how the small groups were going. He simply said, "I had to give it up. I couldn't find anyone who wanted to take the responsibility of teaching a group." He couldn't find enough faithfully committed to the word.

Recognize what God has entrusted to us individually. Paul reminded Timothy what God had entrusted to him. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14 NIV)

I notice something very important in this verse; it is the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Paul prayed " . . . that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." (Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV) Paul said of his own experiences " But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth." (2 Timothy 4:17 NIV)

If you fill your role with the help of the Holy Spirit realizing God is standing beside you ready to deliver you from the mouth of the lion, then you can step out on God's power to accomplish his will in and through you. If you are worried about filling God's assigned role, remember you have the Holy Spirit who lives in you to strengthen you and remember --- the Lord is at your side.

Conclusion:

We have come back to the beginning; we are talking about dedication to the body of Christ as members in particular. Have we discovered our assigned roles? Do we need help?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (NIV)

The biggest job we have in the church is to assure that members who come into the body of Christ are incorporated into the body in a fully dedicated position.
 
 
 
 

 

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