Thinking Soberly III
Turn to Romans 12 and Galatians 5 – as you’re turning, let me pray
Starting in verse 3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
In this passage, Paul does not say we are the Body of Christ - we would need to read other passages to get that - but the implication is still here - that believers are in Christ and we represent His body, His presence and His message here on earth.
So, what does it mean that we are the Body of Christ? We often say that Christians are brothers and sisters - that no matter where we go in the world, all believers in Christ are in the family of God. Or, we would say that the Body of Christ is the Church - the hands and feet of Jesus. Those are true and there are other descriptions, but we tend to keep those descriptions at surface level. But God’s Word doesn’t do surface level. If we take Scripture seriously, it doesn’t let us stay on the surface. God’s word divides joint and marrow, soul and spirit - it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12). It goes deep. If God’s Word goes deep, then we should as well.
Again, what does it mean that we are the Body of Christ?
A few weeks ago, we talked about sober judgment - about having a healthy biblically self-view. And the admonition is to not think more highly of self than we ought or think too little. And we kept that at the personal individual level, but let’s take it a step further -
Not only does thinking too highly of self portray that we believe we can do life without God, it also portrays that we believe we can do life without the community of God.
Or, if we’re thinking too little, we might believe we have nothing to offer the community of God. Both beliefs are unbiblical. We should neither exaggerate or depreciate who we are in the Body of Christ.
We are told not to forsake meeting together (Heb. 10). There are people who will say, I don’t have to go to church to believe in God. That’s true - but Hebrews 10 is not talking about believing, it’s talking about living and persevering (thriving) - and if you’re going to live and persevere and excel as a Christian, you need other Christians. You need Christians who will invest in you, and you need to invest in others.
Here’s a truth - even though God relates to us individually,
My individual relationship with God is always connected to the community of God.
In other words, Whatever God is doing in me, is connected to what God is doing in us.
So, there’s always a broader community element to our personal spiritual progress.
For example, God made a personal covenant with Noah -which was connected to the salvation of humanity. God made a personal covenant with Abraham - which was to bless the nations. Jesus trained individual disciples who would eventually go and make disciples throughout the world.
This might be difficult to grasp, but we need to get this - Whatever God is doing in me is not just about me - it’s about us. It’s about God shaping and transforming individuals who then come together as the Body of Christ and utilize their gifts, talents and skills to collaborate for the mission of God.
It’s as if each person is one piece of a puzzle - specifically cut out and designed by God. No two pieces are identical - different shapes, sizes, colors, images .... But, all are designed to fit with other pieces to form one picture. That’s the Church.
Listen to Romans 12:4-5 again,
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Some truths about being the Body of Christ …
1) Every believer in Christ has something to offer.
Every believer has different experiences, skills, talents and spiritual gifts - all for the purpose of building up and expanding the Church. Every believer brings something to the table. If you’re not bringing it – you’re robbing the Church - and the mission of the Church. You’re robbing other people of who you’ve been designed to be.
2) Every believer in Christ is necessary.
You’ve heard me say this before, every believer in Christ needs every believer in Christ. The puzzle cannot be completed without every piece doing what it was designed to do.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
It’s one of the greatest lies of the enemy to believe you are not needed. One of my commentaries stated this -
“To see oneself as both a dependent and a dependable part of the whole is an essentially Christian attitude.”
The Church is depending upon you / me to be healthy - physically, spiritually, emotionally. The Church is depending upon you / me to pursue holiness - to be obedient to God’s will. Not only is the Church depending upon you and me, but whether they like it or not, know it or not - the world is depending upon us as well. So, are you dependent and dependable?
3) Every believer in Christ can reach their full potential - only within the community of Christ.
Here at Sunnyside, we believe that God created each person with a potential to reach - and that potential is only found in and through the community of God. There are lot of people who think they can be holy, righteous, effective apart from the community of God - not the way God designed it.
4) Every believer in Christ is responsible for every believer in Christ.
Where does that come from and what does that mean? The fact that we belong to each other carries a sense of responsibility. Each member functions to serve the body, not necessarily the other way around.
For instance, my body does not exist to serve my heart. My heart, however, exists to serve the body and to keep it alive. Make sense? Reminds me of what Jesus said - the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.
So, if belonging means we have a responsibility to one another … what might that look like? Let’s turn to Galatians 5 starting in verse 13 -
1) We have a responsibility to serve the Body of Christ.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The word Serve is douleuō (δουλεύω) - to conduct oneself as one in total service to another, to perform the duties of a slave; to serve.
This is also written in the imperative – it’s not a suggestion, but a command. But it’s not a command without benefits. Could you imagine what could happen to us and to our community if we consistently thought of ourselves as slaves and servants of one another?
2) We have a responsibility to restore the Body of Christ
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
First, what does it mean to be caught in a sin? We’re not talking the occasional sin – we’re talking about someone who is consistently ensnared or overcome by a particular sin or sins. They are a slave, captured, trapped to that sin.
So, what do we do about that? “Oh, that’s the pastor’s job to tell people about sin.” No. Whose job is it? Ours / spiritually mature.
Secondly, the word restore is written in the imperative. This is not optional. We’ve gotten away from spiritual accountability.
Lastly, how does one restore? With gentleness. And here, the emphasis is on the person doing the restoring – not the person caught in sin. And the point is this - it’s all about your approach, attitude, motives … people will typically respond well if you have the right attitude and right motives - when it’s done in humility and not judgment or arrogance.
3) We have a responsibility to assist the Body of Christ
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Your burdens should be our concern. But what burdens? All of them? Not necessarily. So, which ones? Jump down to verse 4-5.
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
What’s going on here? The key here is self-evaluation. “Is this problem something that I should carry on my own?” Notice I said should. There are some burdens we can carry alone, but God doesn’t want us to. Of course, the opposite is true - there are burdens we want to share with everyone, but God says, “No - this one is yours.”
This can be difficult to navigate …
4) We have a responsibility to improve the Body of Christ
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
What does it mean to do good to people? To do good means to do what is best or beneficial. So, we have a responsibility to do what is best or beneficial for other people – to help improve the Body of Christ - especially for the other people sitting in this building. We should be helping one another become better, not just helping one another survive.
Doing what is best for others is labor intensive. It requires us to do several things – what are some of those things? Just say a few – (be aware, be intentional, be more about others and not myself etc.)
Every believer is necessary and has something to offer. Every believer has a potential to reach, but it can only be reached within the community of believers. Every believer has a responsibility to other believers – to serve, to restore, to assist, to better …
What are you doing that fits that description? Where does your piece of the puzzle fit in?
Let me tie all this up – you know what all this means? It means that we should intentionally do what we can to help others reach their full potential in Christ: physically, spiritually, emotionally.
What are some things you can do to help others reach their potential in Christ?
How can I help you?
What do you have to offer the Church? How can you put it to use?
What decisions do you make affect the community of God (both negative and positive)? In what ways are you using your time, energy, money, talents, skills to build the Kingdom?