Friday, August 31, 2007

If We Are the Body

by Kathy Lay

Verse of the Week: Romans 12:10--"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)

I remember meeting Dustin that hot August morning on the first day of class. A whole new crop of excited college freshman were sitting in the classroom waiting for their new English class to begin. As the instructor, I always wanted to establish a relaxed, familiar environment on those first few days because I remembered how overwhelming college can be at first. One way I did this was to allow students to submit anonymously on a note card any question that they wanted to ask. Inevitably, through questions like “How do you spend your free time?” or “What are your hobbies?” the opportunity arose for me to share that I’m a Christian.

Dustin’s class was no different. I remember him coming up to me that day and saying how cool it was that I’m a Christian because he was too. As the semester progressed, we shared many God-conversations. But the one I remember most was when I asked him what church he attended. His response was, “Oh, I don’t do church. My relationship with God is between me and him and it’s no one else’s business.” I had no ready response for that and quite honestly, at his age I had felt about the same way. My Christianity had really been Kathianity at that point, as in “God, what will you do for me today?” if I even bothered to throw out that little prayer. I’d been saved, so that took care of it, right?

But I know better now.

Our community is currently grieving the loss of a young boy. When something tragic like this happens, we begin to ask questions... “Why, God?...How do we make sense of this?...How can we help the family?” I was talking with my friend, Missy, and she told me that as she prayed about the situation, she felt God saying, “Stand. Just stand.” We considered what all that might encompass...Stand in the gap for them praying. Gather and stand around them, like a hedge of protection. Stand back and watch what I, the Lord your God, will do.

And as Missy and I ended our conversation, it clicked for me...that is why we participate in the church body. To disregard that aspect of being a Christian is to miss the point of being a Christian, apart from being saved. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love, first the Lord, and then your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-39). And in 1 Peter, all Christians are reminded to “be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” (NLT)

And that, my friends, is why we “do church.” Even though the couple who lost their little boy attends a different church than I do, we belong to the same Body—that of Christ. That means being his hands raised in intercession for this family, being his feet running to their aid to meet physical needs, being his heart loving them so much that they feel peace and comfort in the midst of chaos and heartbreak, and being his head helping them iron out details and maybe even over time, begin to make some sort of sense of things.

I continued to see Dustin on campus from time to time after our semester together ended. He even bought our praise band’s CD. But I’d love to see him just one more time and ask him again which church he attends. This time I’d have a story to share.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that you use your church body to minister. What a privilege to be a part of that! Show us how to use our individual gifts and talents to reach out and be You to those who are hurting and in need. By the power in your name, Jesus, Amen.

Application: What are you really good at that you enjoy doing? Offer those talents to the church body in an effort to build others up.

Power Verses:
*Deuteronomy 27:7 (NIV)—Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the LORD your God.
*I John 1:7 (NLT)—But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
*Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)—Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.


SLBoyer said...

Thanks so much for reminding all of us why we "do church". I know sometimes I get so bogged down in the details I forget the beauty of the body of Christ. Don't you just want everyone to feel that since of belonging!! And our wonderful and merciful God does not care where we are or what we've done! He loves us and wants us just the way we are. The great thing is that he loves us so much that he won't leave us where we are!

I can't imagine "doing life" without "doing church"!

Paula said...

Amazing - my prayers for the Willams' the past few days have been focused on 'standing in the gap' for them.

Once again, I am simply amazed at how God leads us. I continue to stand.........

Machelle said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine life without my Church family. When we started attending Church, I found the family I had always longed for. Can we go to heaven if we don't go to Church? Maybe. But why would I want to?? That would be like showing up to a family reunion and everyone askin "Who's that?" Dustin, may God bless you with a family like mine!

karenkeim said...

Great devo! My tears came, though, from your response, Machelle.(Of course, I assumed you were talking about ME when you were talking about the family you have always longed for and love so much!) As I read that, though, I thought about mine and Machelle's relationship -- how during different seasons in life, we have been really close and in constant contact and then how in other seasons, we have drifted apart for various reasons. But you know what the cool thing is? Every time we get back together, it's just like we've never been apart! That's what family is like! And that's the way it is with our relationship with the Lord. We go through "seasons" of time when we are so close to Him, spending great amounts of time with him, and then "seasons" when we kind of drift away. But do you know what the cool thing is? He is always right there where we left off, just like we've never been apart! (Hey! I should have saved all of this! It would make a good devo!)

Trish said...

First of all thanks so much to the Women's Ministry team. I was just reading the caller and was reminded to stop and check out The Olive Branch and am glad I did. Your doing a great job!!

Second, I want to say that I too am grateful for my church family. I moved to Marshall a few years ago, and it would have been very lonely had I not found you all. Thanks for welcoming me!!

Techie Topher said...

I don't really have a comment other than to say "Is it alright that I'm reading this"???? Even though it's supposed to be a women's ministry?

Jessica said...

It is always nice to be reminded that the body extends outside of our own home church walls and God wants it to be that way.

When I travel alot and can't be in church every Sunday God always provides me with an opportunity to be around the body. This post was a nice focus for my week because I am leaving tomorrow on business and will be gone for two weeks. I know that people are already in place of my path for the next two weeks that are part of the body. So cool.

M. Milbourn said...

As I read your comments, I'm reminded of Psalm 68:6 which says this, "God places the lonely in families, he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy"