“To live as and to grow the Body of Christ in the world”
“Als Leib Christi in der Welt leben und wachsen”.
“You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”.
1st Corinthians 12:27
The following 12 analogies made from the human body, are used to picture the richness of our Christian faith; what it means to live as members of Christ’s Body – the Church:
1. The body functions through unity in diversity. The Church is people. The Church is holy – belonging to God. Through loyalty to Christ the head, each unique member should employ its specific gift to serve. Each member should stop comparing itself as being inferior or superior to others. We are not a look alike military parade, but a variety of unmatched creatures carrying the hallmark of our Creator. We are young and old, from different languages and cultures, we worship in a liturgical, meditative and free style, we make use of the choir, brass band, organ, or the piano guitar and flute. All this shows that God loves diversity and wants us to employ our gifts to serve together – unity.
2. The church needs a sturdy inner framework, just as the body needs a strong skeleton. The commandments, creeds and doctrines (for eg. Small Catechism) want to promote life and give a protective structure to “create room for good things to run wild” (G.K.Chesterton).
3. The body has muscles. Muscles are needed for motion and balance and remind us that we need training and practice in order to run the good race of faith. This is done through the home groups and the various courses we offer during the year.
4. Just as blood gives life, cleanses and overcomes disease, so the Eucharist gives life, cleanses from sin and overcomes separation. Holy Communion forms part of a service 2-3 times a month.
5. The body needs a supple skin. The skin reminds us that we need to keep in touch with God and to touch the lives of our fellow human beings by showing compassion to their needs. We keep in touch with God through the services and devotions, through song, prayer and Bible study. We touch the lives of others through visits, prayer chains, and care groups.
6. The body needs good nerves – good communication. The nerves remind us that we must stay connected at all times to the head to receive and to send messages, to receive guidance and to respond appropriately to different situations. This is primarily done through reading God́s Word and prayer, individually or corporately.
7. The body needs breath to stay alive – the Holy Spirit. When we allow our bodies to become his temple and pray to be filled continuously, we will receive power to forgive sins and be inspired to do the will of God and to be witnesses of Christ through word and deed.
8. As members, we are given the free will to serve or to be disloyal, to become channels of God́s grace in it́s various forms, or to rebel and live a life apart from God like cancer in a body that is only concerned about itself. The latter could happen through keeping God́s good gifts only to ourselves instead of shearing them with others. These gifts then become our gods around which our whole life revolves. The Bible calls this idolatry. God bestows gifts so that we use them to serve one another and the world. Through gift courses and fellowship we envisage that members will discover, develop and employ their gifts and thus serve more joyfully and diligently.
9. The tongue reminds us of the fact that we were created to praise and worship God. We also need to speak the truth in love, edify, compliment and build up one another and not tear one another down through gossip, lies and destructive criticism.
10. The body experiences feelings like pain. Often pain is a gift because it reminds us that something is wrong and needs urgent attention. In the same way people who suffer need our compassion and should not be rejected or avoided. Pain also reminds us of the suffering and death Christ took upon himself in order that we may live. Through him we are enabled to forgive and reconcile where we hurt one another.
11. The body also experiences feelings like joy. Joy is triggered through for eg. adoration of creation, when repentance takes place and even in tough times due to faith in God who will never forsake us. Joy is to a large part the result of our own choices. We cannot always determine our circumstances, but we can decide how we will respond to them.
12. Pain and joy brings also the special days of the church calendar to mind where we meditate or celebrate the important acts of God: meditate during Lent and Good Friday, but also celebrate Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Confirmation and Harvest Festival.
13. One cannot make a body grow, but one can take away hindrances that stifle growth. God grows his Church and the elders are empowered to identify and to remove obstacles to growth through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. We are committed to pursue this God-given vision: To live as and to grow the Body of Christ. We do this through prayer, strategic planning and leadership training. We envisage members to become fully committed and functional according to their God-given gifts and talents. The good news of salvation through Jesus Christ has not changed throughout the centuries, but we endevour to make it accessible and relevant for our times and context. Jesus has commissioned his church to “go and make disciples” Matthew 28:18-20 which shows that the church needs to reach out into the wold through word and deed. This we do also in partnership with other congregations and denominations.
14. I believe you will now have a better understanding of the concept of the Body of Christ and our purpose: “To live as and to grow the Body of Christ.
Pastor Dr. Reiner G. Focke