by Grady King –
The church is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12.12.f). What could be more direct that the words of Paul—“Now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor 12.27). The Corinthian church was admonished to function as the body of Christ in sacrificial love, serving according to their gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit for the “common good” (1 Cor 12.7). Failure to do so is to stay immature and be less than the body of Christ. The Corinthian church was no easy place to minister. Suffice to say, Paul did not meet their expectations of what it meant to be an “effective minister.” In fact, they were called to be the body of Christ with and without Paul. He would not be with them catering to their every need for long. Immature people always have unrealistic and often demanding expectations. They have a “please me” attitude. My good friend, Jon, articulates a spirit of immaturity like this:
I have come here to be pleased
I want what I want
When I want it
If I am not pleased, I will be sure to tell you
If you do not please me, I will withhold
Love, affection, presence, attention, money
Please me, or else
Yes, please me, for I cannot please myself
I have surrendered that responsibility to you
Please me now
And I won’t abandon you
What Paul addressed is their self-centered, serve me notion of being and doing church. In short, live into your identity in Christ and be THE BODY OF CHRIST. There are many applications to the church today from Corinthians. And undoubtedly, not everyone in the church was immature, but the call to healthy, functioning community life in Christ was clear.
Here are some trends regarding preachers and congregations that need a fresh encounter with Paul’s admonition to be the body of Christ:
- Churches have been conditioned to depend on a preacher as if he is the totality of the body of Christ.
- Churches have tacit expectations that the preacher should focus on comfort rather than challenge as if he is a massage therapist who ignores pressure points.
- Preachers are seen as the one who should do all the work as if he is the actor and the church is the audience.
- Preachers do a poor job of setting boundaries and tend to be rescuers and fixers, as if they are responsible for the choices people make about serving or not serving.
- Churches tend to only evaluate a preacher based on “nickels and noses”—money in the plate and people in the pew as if they are the consumers of religious goods and services.
Again, the church is the body of Christ. We are individually members of it. There’s plenty of work to do. Gather a few people with a common interest and make a difference. Be the body of Christ. You don’t have to wait on anyone.