I want you to imagine a conversation between a news reporter and a Sunday churchgoer. Let’s call him Akash.
The interviewer asks Akash, “Why are you part of a local church?” Akash quickly answers “It’s because I love the fellowship. The people are very nice and friendly and I’m able to relate with them well”. The interviewer then asks him, ” Well, how is the church any different from any social group- like a football club, chess club, or really close family and friend circles? Isn’t that the same?”
Akash then says “no this is different because I get to sing these beautifully tuned worship songs and because there’s a pastor who teaches some really good and practical stuff for life”.
The interviewer responds by asking him, ” See…Right now we are in a digital age – you can access all of these best Christian songs and listen to the best preachers from your home itself, why do you have to be a part of a church?”
By now Akash is a little irritated by the questions, “He says – what are you saying…every Sunday I have to go to church. I cannot imagine not going. I’ve been doing that for many years. Apart from this, there’s nothing else that I can do on Sunday”.
Now, this might seem like a silly imaginary conversation but I want all of us to think on why we invest so many hours each week in the weekend Gathering and community? Why don’t we do anything else during that time? And I want us to be challenged by this line of questioning. And how much should we invest in this? Is it just 2 hours a week or much more? Is it worth sacrificing your entire life for it?
The first thing I want us to grasp is that we are in a community not because of social reasons or because there’s nothing else to do but:
We are united by Truth (v4-6)
There are these amazing life-altering truths that joins us together.
A) One body – We are many members of Christ’s single body. We may look different, come from different backgrounds but through Christ, we are now members of one body. Glen and I once shared a shared rickshaw with an elderly couple. Saw a Bible in his hand and we started talking. He was a believer and even though he was 80 years old but also my brother and fellow member of Christ’s body.
B) One Spirit – It’s mindboggling to think that God’s own Spirit dwells in each of us believers. And also to realize that everyone shares the very same Spirit. No partiality. We know that as much as we yield to the Spirit, we are being controlled by Him but in giving us the Spirit God shows no partiality.
C) One Hope – We will be resurrected. Not ashamed. Pronounced not guilty. Living as heirs in God’s kingdom with God even though we didn’t deserve to be there in the first place.
D) One Lord – All of us who believe in Jesus have one Master and one Savior. There was only one person who lived the life we could never imagine living – holiness example – walking on puddles. Yet He was willing to take on the punishment that we deserved and give us His righteousness. Exchanging His robe for ours. And His sacrifice transforms our lives once for all. Can anyone else be our Master? He is a Faithful Lord.
E) One Faith – Trusting in Christ’s work to bring us to God. Example: A man drowning in the sea and holding onto a rope.
F) One Baptism – Declaration of our fellowship with Christ and the church. Doesn’t matter if you’ve been baptized in an interior village of India or at the Omkar pool. It’s a sign of your commitment and God looks at all of it as obedience.
G) One God the Father – In a country where we boast of 330 million gods, the Bible says there’s only one God – He rules over everything, He is powerful to work through everything so that ultimately everything displays His greatness.
Secondly, the reason why the church can’t be a disconnected affair where we can be virtually connected through Livestream is because:
We are united for Strength (v7-16)
We need each other to grow stronger in the Lord.
I) God giving gifts to each individual believer (v7)
* Spiritual Gifts – ” Grace” – undeserving gift of God according to Christ’s measure. There is a purpose to God giving you a gift.
II) Wonderful purpose of spiritual gifts
* Church leaders are God’s gift to the church to equip (perfect, complete furnishing) the saints for the work of ministry. Servants of the Lord & the church – Church leaders are like joints – binding the skeleton together, giving structure and allowing muscles to move bones to perform different activities. Our job as church leaders is to bring people together, give direction (casting vision) and allow people to use their gifts to do the work of ministry. Coach the church so that everyone is active in body building. (V11, 12)
* Unity and Maturity – When will we be fully united? when we become like Christ. When will we be fully mature? When we become like Christ. The goal is to attain the measure of the full stature of the fullness of Christ – Christ likeness is not going to happen alone. It’s going to happen with the church. (V13, 14)
* Growth is going to happen when each part of the body is working properly. (V15, 16)
United in love (v1-3)
Even though we have been given “grace” yet we experience issues within the church – making it more difficult to attain unity. “Sin” and “Strangeness”. What should we do?
Should we quit? What does Scripture call us to do? Loving each other through humility and gentleness. Patiently bearing with each other in love. Ensuring with one another.
If we all are honest, we’ll admit that this is very difficult and impossible to bring about this type of unity by our own efforts. So what’s the solution?
This is only possible through the Gospel. Only knowing Christ and experiencing His grace can allow us to extend that outwards to each other.
Questions for discussion:
1. In your experience in the past, what have you perceived the purpose of spiritual gifts to be?
2. What kind of barriers can stop a church from experiencing unity and maturity in the faith?
3. Based on today’s passage, what are some things that God is calling you to do in a church which can promote unity and maturity?