Bringing radical thoughts worth pondering (A blog of poriruachurch.com)
Peter exhorted his readers, “…love the brotherhood” (1 Pet. 2:17); that “chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation” (v.9), which the inspired man served as both an apostle and elder. The New Testament very clearly teaches that love for Christ is inseparable from love for his body, the church. Now this does not mean that the church is Christ, but it does mean that the church derives its very nature from the nature of Christ. The “chosen race” enjoys the title only because the Christ is pre-eminently “His chosen One” (Luke 23:35). It is only because the Messiah is now “…a priest on His throne” (Zech. 6:13), that Christians are a “royal priesthood.” We are sanctified only because He first sanctified Himself (Jn. 17:19), and we are children of God (1 Jn. 3:1) only because He is uniquely “the son of God” (Jn. 1:18). Thus the church is an object of love, not because it is identical with the Christ, but because it partakes of His very nature.
Since the government of the New Testament church is local, it is evident that any commitment to the Lord’s body must ultimately express itself at the local level. Under the direct headship of Jesus Christ each local congregation of the Lord’s people continues the ministry of Christ in a world which is lost, and the success of that ministry depends upon “….the proper working of each individual part” (Eph. 4:16). Using the image of the “body” the apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth that “…the manifestation of the Spirit [is] for the common good” (1 Cor.12:7). Although we live in the non-miraculous age, it is certainly evident that the mark of the mature Christian is his readiness to put his talents and abilities to work in the local church for the common good. While we may not all have the same abilities or opportunities, there are many things which all can do to build up the local church.
Firstly, we can all attend the regular assemblies of the church as the Lord directs (Heb. 10:25). Notice that the Lord’s Supper, that great commemorative act of thanksgiving (1 Cor. 11:24; Mark 14:22), involves not only communion with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16ff), but it also expresses the unity of all who are in Christ. Since we partake of “one bread” we are therefore “one body” (1 Cor. 10:17), and thus the Supper is to be eaten by the saints in the assembly (1 Cor. 11:20). More than any other act of worship, the Lord’s Supper reminds us that “…we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). The church is edified, our belief in the gospel proclaimed (1 Cor. 11:26), and the bond of love which unites us to Christ and to one another is strengthened. Question: What plans could I possibly have for Sunday which are more important than assembling with the saints around the Lord’s table?
Secondly, we can all give as we have been prospered (1 Cor. 16:2) so that the work of outreach is not hindered. In commending the churches of Macedonia for their great liberality, Paul explained that “…they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (1 Cor. 8:5). Truly the mark of a surrendered life is surrendered possessions (Luke 14:33), and the offering of a cheerful giver is “…a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). The work of the church in taking the gospel to the lost is not only the greatest work on earth; it is also my work and your work. Question: If every member of the local church gave as I give, would the work of outreach be helped or hindered? Would the current plans and projects of the local church receive a shot in the arm, or would they wither and die through lack of financial support?
Rex Banks, Enduring Words, Vol. 2, Issue 3, March 1983