We enjoy fruit and look forward to when the watermelon, and cantaloupe start showing up in the stores, and our strawberries and raspberries get ripe. Unfortunately, it is often difficult where we live in northwest Montana to get really good watermelon and cantaloupe. But, when my wife cuts up pieces of melon and cantaloupe, adds grapes, strawberries and raspberries, and a little powdered sugar to the mixture, everything, including the melons and cantaloupe, taste better, and the juice that is formed from combining the various fruits with a bit of powdered sugar is very yummy.
I thought of how much that fruit salad is like a local assembly of believers. We each bring a different flavor to the mix and then when the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives and in our assembly, blending us together—like the powdered sugar in the fruit salad—the product is much better and sweeter than any of the individual parts. And it is no wonder, because it is God’s plan. The Apostle Paul compares the church, the “Body of Christ,” to a physical body with its many members, which work together as an amazing display of Divine engineering and design.
In God’s wisdom, He not only places us in individual assemblies, but He also equips us with unique abilities to help that body grow and be effective. They are called “spiritual gifts.” Every believer has one or more gifts and they are to be used for the good of the whole body. They are not for personal glory or edification, but for building up the body of Christ and for His glory. Paul wrote: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) for the common good…But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ…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’…that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” ( I Cor. 12:7-25).
There is no individual believer that is of no importance to the body. Each of us has something to contribute to the health and ministry of a local assembly of believers. When one member of our body is not properly performing its function—no matter how seemingly insignificant that member may appear by itself—our whole body suffers. For example, as a result of some back problems, I had nerve damage which resulted in my right foot being numb—yet very sensitive to pain– and I cannot curl my toes down. That may not seem like any big deal, but I cannot grip the ground with my toes so it affects balance. At times my foot also feels a bit like a block of concrete. I have trouble even keeping a slipper or thong on my foot. You don’t realize how much being able to curl your toes helps you until you cannot do it.
Paul also wrote in his letter to the church at Ephesus, concerning spiritual gifts, and the assembly of believers, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs, to the fulness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” ( Eph. 4:11-16). Note the emphasis on the working together of each individual part. If one is missing, the body can’t grow properly to maturity.
In other words, we need each other. The assembly of believers needs you and you need each of them. Note too that the pastor’s role is the “equipping of the saints for the work of service,” not for doing all the work. We are not to just “sit and soak and sour.” We are being taught and trained to play a vital role in the ministry of the church. Are you fulfilling God’s purpose for you in the church? Are you using the gifts God gave you “for the common good”? He didn’t give them to you to be used on yourself but to minister to others. The body works so much better when all the members are getting their directions from the head. Jesus is the “Head” of the Church. Are you getting your directions from Him? The toes on my right foot are not getting proper directions from my head (brain) so are not performing their intended role. Are you performing your God-intended role in the church? Remember, we are better together!