It’s kind of been like Christmas at our fellowship for the past several months. We have, over the past couple of years, raised the profile of the importance of membership in a local body of believers. We’ve taught on the “whys and wherefores” of making “a living commitment” to the group of believers you believe God has called you to be identified with. We’ve emphasized that we are not talking “membership” as in being a member of a country club or a member at the Y, but rather membership as in being a uniquely called and enabled member of a body. To make this living commitment to a fellowship of believers is to, by God’s grace, say you’re willing to assume your role in the body of Christ as a body part.
And so, over the last several months, our church family has been welcoming a number of new members into our fellowship and, along with them their unique gifting as God ordained body parts. And we have this sense of expectant curiousity of what it will look like when those gifts are opened and operational. Kind of like Christmas.
There’s an anticipation. What role, what body part, will these new members play? What role will they play in the body of Christ? How will they impact our testimony for Christ and His kingdom? God knows. He’s the One building our body. He’s the one gracing the fellowship with the gifts. Ours is to use them.
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. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . .
(Romans 12:4-6a ESV)
Many members in the one body. Not all with the same function, but still one body. Individuals yet members of one another. Each having gifts. Gifts not according to just our natural abilities but according to the grace given us. Gifts “according to the measure of faith God has assigned” (12:3). Gifts intended to be used. And so Paul exhorts believers, “Let us use them.”
I’m reminded again this morning that church isn’t something I do, it’s something I am. Every Sunday as I gather with the saints it’s a reminder that I’m a body part, that I have some apportioned gift that I am to exercise for the building up of the family of God and for the furtherance of the gospel. That without my gift in operation, my fellowship is operating on less than full power.
. . . if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
(Romans 12:6b-8 ESV)
It’s not an exhaustive list but it’s a pretty illustrative list. From declaring the oracles of God to showing acts of mercy. From teaching to giving generously. Something for everyone to do. All graced to individuals by God. So, says Paul, “Let us use them.”
And we don’t need to compare our gift to someone else’s gift. We shouldn’t shelve our God graced body function because we think someone else does it better. We steward what we’ve been given “in proportion to our faith.” God has measured it out. Ours is to share what we have, not what we don’t have.
The key to the body of Christ, is that, though we don’t all have the same function, we’re all still functioning. Though all teachers may have not been apportioned the same measure of teaching gift, they are all still teaching. Though all givers may not have been given the same GQ (generosity quotient), they are all still giving according the GQ they have been given.
Paul didn’t say, “Let us compare our gifts to one another.” He said, “Let us use them.”
So, let’s use our gifts. Let’s be the body parts He’s enabled us to be. In proportion to our faith. According to the measure of grace He has assigned. As a member of the body of Christ . . . not a club member, but a body part member. And when we start bringing our gifts to the table, or rather to our fellowships, it will feel like Christmas as we anticipate the blessing that comes from each gift being opened and being operational within our gathering.
How wondrous is the body of Christ? How amazing is His provision for the body of Christ? How great is His gifting of the body of Christ?
Let us use them.
By His grace. For His glory.