Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Church Community

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with a good friend of mine. He is the lead rector of a start up Anglican Church in West LA. I've hung out in LA, and have some friends from Cali. He's got his hands full for sure. Not a whole lot of JC vibe going on over there on the left coast. The only place I can think of that may be more of a spiritual wasteland is the tech area of northern California. Unfortunately my brother lives out there, and it has completely crushed his faith in God. But that's a sad topic for another day.

So I'm excited about seeing my friend tomorrow. I'm finding that being surrounded by a community of believers is key. (Although I've always found the idea of a life of solitude in prayer quite romantic. I've had images of running away from it all and joining a monastery so that I could have my own cell with a wooden stool and a bible. But maybe it was the running away from it all that sounded so appealing.) My faith is often replenished and restored by meeting with my brothers in Christ. I often leave feeling as renewed as I do after a solid session of prayer.

In the sermon last Sunday, my friend I'm meeting with tomorrow spoke of the Body of Christ. He talked about how we're all called to do different things, but we are functioning as part of Christ's body. The work that we're doing is a continuance of the work Christ did while he was here. We are instructed to carry on in his name. There is nothing more important. We all have different strengths and callings. A good way to find out what your'e called to do in the Body of Christ is to follow your passion. But even more importantly, when we meet live and work together...I think there's a sense of Christ being present in more of a complete way. And thus when I'm with fellow Christians, I feel very alive.

I looked up some passages that refer to the Body. They are all Pauline. Paul was an amazing orator. He was his own lawyer in Acts, and it turns out he didn't have a fool for a client. He developed a lot of the theology behind the Body, and here's some of what he has to say about it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
13 Is Christ divided? . . . .

30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.The Church, or Body of Christ, is composed of many members. Not every member has the same function or calling. God did not create or call each member to do the same thing.

ROMANS 12:4-8
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 CORINTHIANS 12:12,14,17-27 NKJ
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.
21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,
24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,
25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ --
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

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