Based on “I Am A Church Member” by Thom Rainer
Part 1. What’ Your Function
- You are necessary
Ephesians 4:1-6 (NLV)
I am being held in prison because of working for the Lord. I ask you from my heart to live and work the way the Lord expected you to live and work. 2 Live and work without pride. Be gentle and kind. Do not be hard on others. Let love keep you from doing that. 3 Work hard to live together as one by the help of the Holy Spirit. Then there will be peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit. There is one hope in which you were called. 5 There is one Lord and one faith and one baptism. 6 There is one God. He is the Father of us all. He is over us all. He is the One working through us all. He is the One living in us all.
There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan. C.S. LewisThere
No Lone Rangers
Ephesians 4:12 (NLV)
12 These gifts help His people work well for Him. And then the church which is the body of Christ will be made strong.
The church is the bride of Christ.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
The church is God’s house.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (NLV)
19 From now on you are not strangers and people who are not citizens. You are citizens together with those who belong to God. You belong in God’s family. 20 This family is built on the teachings of the missionaries and the early preachers. Jesus Christ Himself is the cornerstone, which is the most important part of the building. 21 Christ keeps this building together and it is growing into a holy building for the Lord. 22 You are also being put together as a part of this building because God lives in you by His Spirit.
You are functioning as:
Bride (2 Cor 11; Eph 5; Rev. 21)
Family (Gal. 6; Eph. 2; 1 John 2
Body (Rom 12; 1 Cor. 12)
Army (Eph. 6)
Holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2; Rev. 1; 5)
Branches (John 15:5)
Bread (John 12; 1 Cor. 10)
lampstand (Rev. 1-2)
field (1 Cor. 3)
vineyard (John 15, Isaiah 65:8)
flock (John 10; 21; 1 Pet. 2)
city (Php. 3; Heb. 12; Rev. 21-22)
temple (1 Cor. 3; 2 Cor. 6; Eph. 2; 1 Pet. 2)
nation (1 Pet. 2; Rev. 1; 5)
- Embrace Your Uniqueness
1 Corinthians 12 (MSG)
12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can…
4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
healing the sick
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:
those who pray in tongues.
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.
But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.
- Being and engaged member of the church means everything you say and do is motivated by love.
1 Corinthians 13The Message (MSG)
The Way of Love
13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
- Engage your engine, being a fully functioning church member
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.
1 Corinthians 14:26
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
“Behold you have admonished many, And you have strengthened weak hands. “Your words have helped the tottering to stand, And you have strengthened feeble knees.
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.
1 Corinthians 10:24
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.