“But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’.” (I Cor. 12:20-21)
As we have seen in the previous articles, the Lord has called us individually to be parts of a whole, His body, the Church. As the Apostle Paul states it in the above passage, “there are many members, but one body” (vs. 20). For so long, especially within the evangelical branch of the American Church, we have over-focused on the individuality of the believer in Christ. We have talked about our respective “personal walk with Jesus” to the point that each of us affirms that we live this life as singular “islands” unto ourselves, not needing or wanting connections with other believers. We perceive that we are self-sufficient spiritually. We have the mindset that if we have our own Bibles, devotional works, access to commentaries and other Bible study materials as well as television ministers, we need no other assistance as to our spiritual growth. We can go it alone, “just me and God”.
However, that is not how God designed the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ to function. As Paul states, “the eye cannot say to the hand (as part of the whole body), ‘I have no need of you’”. Yet, for many believers in their brazen self-sufficiency, that is exactly what they are communicating to the rest of His Church—“I have no need of you”. That is, until they actually do. These individual professing believers will neglect the attending of services, or as the writer of Hebrews puts it, “the forsaking (of the) assembling together” (Heb. 10:25), with the idea that such faithfulness to worship and fellowship with other Christians is not for them. However, if a great need, tragedy, or health issue comes their way, they are quick to make contact with the church office or pastor, expecting a prompt response from the people of God to their situation. It seems the problem of professing Christians expecting from the Church without giving to the Church in terms of their time, talents, gifts or resources is a longstanding one.
Yet, this does not excuse the sin. Using the analogy of the Apostle Paul, it would be like having your hand deciding one day that it did not like where your head decided to take the rest of your body. So, your hand resolved to go on strike. It refused to work anymore, no longer participating in the operations of the rest of the body. What an impact would it have on you for your hand to simply stop functioning. Depending on which hand it was, the effect could be devastating. The same is true for the body of Christ. The Church of Jesus needs all of its members involved for it to operate properly and efficiently.
There are some of you reading this letter this month who have been church members, maybe of Evergreen or of another church, who have not attended a church service in a very long time. You think no one misses you. You think that no one cares about you. You believe that you do not or cannot make a difference and, thus, you continue to absent yourself from the rest of God’s people. All the while your own spiritual fire dwindles toward extinction and you wonder why. Television ministries help, but they do not take away the loneliness and the disconnect that you continue to feel. What can you do?
I will give you the answer in one simple word: return. Return to the spiritual home that God has provided for His people—the local church. It is in this fellowship where you will find the love of Christ, connection with fellow travelers on their spiritual journeys, and the nourishment needed to make the journey a success. One thing you will not find in this local church, though you might expect it, is perfection. There are only saved sinners in attendance in any local fellowship who truly seek to follow the Lord.
So, rather than taking the “I have no need of anyone” approach to church attendance, as believers in Christ, we should always be diligent to be in God’s house to worship, serve and have fellowship with one another. Whether or not we really want to admit it, we need each other in Jesus. He wants us to be “one body”. After all, for all eternity we will be together as such. We might as well start practicing now while rubbing shoulders here on earth.