The Church: Body Parts Working Together, Pt 3
Study Guide, September 19, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
Teamwork is certainly one of the best ways to work. And when we think of God’s church, teamwork certainly is a central way God’s church is designed to work. Throughout life God’s church is designed to ‘do life together’, worshipping the Mighty God together, and serving God by serving others together, and by just assisting one another in learning and in growing and in just doing life together! And that has been the focus and strategy for the ministry and experience here at the Chapel. As has been pointed out: Ministry is making life better for others to the glory of God!
We even share helps and tips for the ordinary things of life. For example: Here’s a few tips for your day-to-day challenges: Remember this: We tend to remember things better by saying them out-loud; like remembering where you placed things, or when leaving your home, like “Stove is off…coffee pot is unplugged…refrigerator door is closed…”, or even say where you parked your car…and so on. This tip is especially helpful for remembering Scripture verses…say them out-loud; it really helps.
Some other tips are: In America, outlets generally have the larger end for plugs on the left side. This saves you trying one side and then the other when plugging electrical things in…Or, try using toothpaste to clear up your car’s film on your headlights…or use a staple remover to add keys to your keychain instead of using your fingernails…or when filling up your tank in your car, the dashboard has an arrow by the fuel gauge that shows which side your gas cap is on…or on hard to open jars, first release the pressure on the lid with a spoon or knife…or when you want to hang something heavy on your walls, use a strong magnet to find the nails in the wall studs…or even when you are camping and can’t find any dry kindling for your fire…hey, Doritos chips make for good kindling!
See, we’re talking practical helps for practically everything in life…especially when we’re sharing the helps and principles from the Word of God, which is… ‘God’s Owner’s Manual’ for life. One of the great things about living in this time of Church history is that we have so many great helps for better learning and using the Scriptures. The many kinds of Study Bibles have various guides; everything from chronological to theological to topical guides. My Ryrie Study Bible has everything from an Index to Subjects throughout the Bible to a Synopsis of Bible Doctrines to Archaeology of the Bible to Church History to Topics of Interest…from finding verses on Assurance to Christian Living to the Second Coming and to dealing with Trials and so on…And this is just one of dozens of different Study Bibles now available to us all.
So, our point is this: Not only is the Church called to learn about how to do life, but the Church is called to both learn and then ‘do life together’, as in doing life as a ‘teamwork’ approach to living. It’s just like with what we have been seeing in our recent studies…the church is a ‘body that needs the other body parts of the body’ in order to more fully worship and serve God together.
One of the clearest passages of explanation about God’s plan for how His people are to do life together is Eph 4:11-16- “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” NASU
Talk about covering it all! And talk about clarifying responsibilities, too! What does God hold church leaders responsible for? Equipping God’s people in order for God’s people to do God’s work. How about that? For example: Some Outdoor businesses are called ‘Outfitters’. And the purpose of these stores is to equip campers and hunters and fishermen with both the equipment and often the teaching, even sometimes the training for these campers to then go out and enjoy their camping and for hunters to then go out and effectively go hunting and for fishermen to be equipped for their adventures in fishing. And certainly those who often work in these business are avid campers and hunters and fishermen themselves. But again, the whole point of people going to get equipped for camping and hunting and fishing is to actually then do camping themselves and go hunting themselves get to the fishing themselves. The Outfitters are the equippers and the Outfitted are the campers and hunters and fishermen.
So how about we have a second sign by the road next to our Chapel By The Sea sign that says: ‘Outfitters By The Sea…Outfitting Christians to serve since 1968’ That would probably prompt some interesting conversations. Of course, one of the great things about the Chapel family is that so many at the Chapel have been carrying out this vision for the Church in Ephesians 4 for years and years. The Chapel has been blessed to have such committed and passionate members who have both understood their duty and who have also given of themselves in the active service of their duty to God and others. So a big time commendation goes out to all in the Chapel family who have served over the years and are in the service of serving God by serving others. So what we are saying here this morning is like with the words that the Apostle Paul gave to the faithful Thessalonians: “You have done well. Now, let’s excel still more.”
That’s our focus as Disciples of Jesus Christ…to not only do well, but to excel still more…especially so as we see the day of Jesus’ return drawing nearer. We want to give our utmost to God’s highest and do our utmost for God’s highest! We want to grow stronger in our resolve to serve one another and to grow deeper in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so that’s why we are reviewing together this focus on the church of Jesus Christ; to do life together, and keep doing it better and better!
So back to the Apostle’s instructions… ‘to the building up of the body of Christ…’. What builds up or strengthens the body of Christ? The work of service. And that’s what each of us body parts are responsible for unto God! You and I are actually in ‘the ministry of body building’. We are each to be body builders. And Paul pointed out that the building follows…the what? The building follows ‘the serving’. It’s in the serving of the body by the body parts that the building up of the body, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically then happens!
For example: In order to strengthen and build muscle mass, you can’t just read articles about it…you can’t just watch videos about it…you can’t just go to seminars about it…rather, you must personally do the exercises; putting in the time, and the effort, and the sweat, and the training that your body requires in order to strengthen muscles and build muscle mass. Certainly, the information and the instruction and the demonstration and the inspiration are all super important and necessary, but…until a person actually acts upon it all…well then…no building…no growth.
That’s why we often point out that no one can do your discipleship for you. As a Disciple of Jesus Christ only you can do the discipleship that God has assigned you to do. And a key part of that is what we saw in our last study: “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Rom 12:6-13 NLT
I always liked that part… ‘serve the Lord enthusiastically.’ Just like love covers a multitude of sins…enthusiasm covers a multitude of mess ups! We all tend to worry too much about not doing well in whatever we attempt to do, worrying about our performance in this activity or in that service and such. Like in the church, we worry about messing up if we try to share our faith with others, or mess up if we try to teach in some setting or another, or mess up if we try to help or encourage one other, or mess up if we try to give generously or extend a kindness or engage in some work of the church, or just mess up somehow in our service. But Paul says that our focus ought to be ‘Just work hard for the Lord and serve the Lord enthusiastically.’ In other words, ‘Don’t worry about messing up in anything…just work hard and serve the Lord, and if you mess up, mess up enthusiastically!’ If you are enthusiastic about it, that will cover up a whole lot of mess ups! I am speaking from experience here, friends! John Maxwell says, “If you fail, be sure and fail forward…toward the Lord.” And we could add to that: “And if you mess up, mess up enthusiastically, for the Lord.” God will reward you for your effort and your enthusiasm…even if you mess it up.” Just go for it for God’s sake!
The Bible is filled with followers of God who were flawed and failed and who often messed up in their ministry attempts. The amazing thing is, God often blessed up what they thought they messed up. That’s just how our amazing God does things. He often blesses in spite of and sometimes even through our messes. Do you remember Isaiah’s self-image? It wasn’t: “Now I’ve got it all together!” No, it was: “Woe is me…I’m an unclean man!” And so what did God do about that? He cleansed Isaiah and then used him to serve Him. God cleaned up what Isaiah thought he had messed up! God can use any of us ‘Woe-is-me’s’ because God is not looking at our abilities…He’s looking for our availability. He’s looking for our “Here am I Lord, send me…use me” attitude. What blesses God is when we are simply willing to do His will. And since God is then able to enable us to do His will, whenever we simply put whatever we’ve got into God’s hands, God takes what we’ve given Him and He makes more out of it than we can even imagine. Recall what Jesus did with two fish and five loaves of bread? The boy with the barley bread and fish sure didn’t see that coming, did he?
So don’t worry about what you’ve got to offer God of your time and talents and treasures. Just focus on making what you’ve got of your time and talents and treasures available for God to use. And then watch God go to work in your ministries and even in your mess-ups. Again, don’t worry about messing up…just focus on stepping up so that God can use you in blessing up others lives around you. Plus, remember, whatever you give to God comes back to you in multiplied form, one way or another; maybe now, but for sure in forever. Think about even how often you hear teachers say about teaching that they find that they learn the most by teaching others. It comes back to bless them! That’s because it comes from the very principle of sowing and reaping. In teaching we reap the joys of learning right along with those with whom we are sowing the seeds being taught! That’s the way it is with whatever act of service we do for others to the glory of God…the service for others comes back in blessing for us. That’s just the way our gracious God works it out for His children.
It’s just like in our passage that said: “..but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” What causes the growth of the body? The proper working of each individual part! That’s where each of us ‘body parts’ come into play. And that’s why we say, for those who are able, and when you are able, the body is in need of the working of its individual parts. And so one of the goals of the Chapel is to explore more opportunities for the members of this body of Christ to experience this amazing design for His local churches. We are going to be exploring more avenues of service opportunities in order for you to better use your gifts that God has given you, some of which are noted in passages like that of Romans 12, about different ways believers can serve God by serving others. And there are other ways that you might see of ways to reach needs, either in the body of Christ here and through the body of Christ here to others. That’s great, and we can explore those further as well. The thing is, since each of us who have been born again and now share in the life of Christ have also been placed into Christ’s family and now share in the body of Christ, we each have a part to play in order for the building up of the body in love and in order to multiply itself in ministry.
And again, what is ministry? Ministry is making life better for others to the glory of God! So each of us is responsible to God for doing just that. So the question you and I should be asking and answering is: In my service to God, as a body part in the church of Jesus Christ, how or in what way can I offer my time and my talents and my treasures to make life better for others to the glory of God? And then, the more and more that you do that, you will not only be blessing other’s lives in your ministry, but you will also personally thrive in being used in the service of our Lord and Savior.