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1 Corinthians 12:12-31
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ (v.12).

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Read Nehemiah 3 for a picture of unity in diversity and how God used it to do the work that needed to be done.

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How will the understanding that you play a significant part in the body of Christ affect your participation in your local church? What part will you play?

In The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, Reggie McNeal writes, “A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith. They contend that the church no longer contributes to their spiritual development.”

I wonder how the apostle Paul would view this phenomenon. He provided a biblical framework in 1 Corinthians 12 for how the church should function. Paul used a living, breathing analogy as he wrote, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). In many Bible translations, the last few words are rendered “so also is Christ.” Perhaps Paul was trying to drive home to his readers the idea that “Christ” and “church” could be used interchangeably. For Christ is the Head of the church, and the church is how He makes Himself known in the world today.

The apostle goes on to address two common church problems—the feeling of insignificance and an independent spirit. “Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part” (1 Corinthians 12:14). Essentially, every part in the body has an important part to play, and we’re mutually interdependent.

Next, Paul honed in on personal application. He wrote, “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). So, before we make the decision to leave a local church, we need to ask first: How will my leaving affect the spiritual development of my brothers and sisters in this church?

Let’s consider our part before the congregation comes apart.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 21:25-38

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9 Responses to “a part or apart”

  1. pastortim says:

    I have been burdened by this subject and have seen and heard a lot of people getting hurt in churches from something the pastor or other people have said or done and leaving , never to come back. As they hold to the offense, bitterness comes and then anger at God. I am not sure if this is God parting true believers from fake, like the wheat and chaff, and I’m praying on what I can do or say that will help. Good devo, I hope it will stir something that might bring God’s people back to fellowship.

  2. levikahn says:

    pastortim I have heard the same comment from friends saying, “I got hurt and will not go back”. My comment always has been, go to another church or come to the church I attend. I don’t understand why people hurt other people in church or anywhere else for that matter. Maybe they are looking for some reason to leave and any little thing will set them off. Your comment about the wheat and the chaff may be the answer.

  3. GChoo says:

    Poh Fang, thanks for today’s message.

    I have been a christian since the age of 12. I can only thank God for being so merciful to me for my salvation as i came from an idol worshipping family.

    Over the years, i have had my share of worshipping in different churches. Also, due to my spiritual immaturity i have even left church, at one point, as i felt that some so called christians didn’t behaved like christians. At that time, I only looked at the ugly side of people to decide whether i like to worship God in that church. When i looked back, i realised that i was probably like them too in some other ways. We are all fallen by nature. This was a very immature way and was also due to a lack of the knowledge of God’s teaching in my younger days.

    Also, from my own experience as a serving deacon in the past and from people who shared with me theirs, i can understand why some christians would want to leave the church to worship elsewhere. In my case, it was be due to the pastor trying to control the church, worrying that changes will suppress her power/say and continued stay in the church and created conflict in the church. There are cases of pastors or elders doing something inappropriate in private but were not reported due to shame by the victim. Conflicts resulting in divisions in the church can make christians not wanting to be a part of it. Such things will drive away the Holy Spirit but the church (the shell) will continue to function. However, the church will not grow spiritually and in numbers.

    Now I am grateful to worship and serve in a church who has God’s focused vision and values. I can feel i am changing and growing in deeper relationship with God and others. It is important to be ble to forgive those who have hurt us even though they may not as yet realise their wrong doings. This will enable us to move on and bring us closer to God.

  4. bearpair says:

    Thanks, Poh, for highlighting what is probably the biggest problem facing today’s local church, as well as the Church, as Christ’s body.
    After spending many years in the “behind-th-scenes” world of church leadership, what grieves me most is the incursion of the world’s ways of leading & managing His local church. Every time I see someone referred to as the CFO, or the CEO, much less seeing church boards gaining their significance by installing as many “successful” business leaders as members, it makes me want to make a mad dash for the nearest exit!
    When will we ever regain, if ever we had it, the vision of the Body that Jesus himself initiated? When believers find more spiritual growth & worship outside the local church, the local church had better re-examine its motives and purpose.

    • danielkclim says:

      So, what if we never had it – i mean the kind of church which our Lord envisioned, started and hoped for? Was all the corruption, false doctrines, persecution, fragmentation and going off track part of His plan for His Body on Earth? Your question is intriguing. Is there such a thing as an apostate church? If so, then would members of such a doomed ‘church’ not be right in leaving it, for their own spiritual health and as an example or encouragement for others – the sooner the better, rather than fight an already lost battle? Ok, the question is, Who are we to decide whether a church is ‘doomed’ or not, i.e. one to whom our Lord will turn and say ‘You call me lord, lord, but I don’t know you!’? We make decisions every day of our lives. Surely we judge in as godly a way as possible. We judge, because we have to, because we have choices to make. We do not condemn. Because it is not ours to condemn ( to Hell). So what if we leave an apostate church, what of those we leave behind who may not or don’t yet have the light or courage to decide or judge or leave for themselves? Too bad? Sounds wrong to me. But what’s the alternative, to stay – in a false ‘church’ where our full service and potential contribution is not wanted or will never be accepted because we insist on doing it according to His standards, not theirs? Isn’t that a futile and stupid position to take? Are we not supposed to act wisely? The parable of the sower surely tells us that seeds will never grow on the path or on stony ground – that sowing there will only feed the birds or waste the seed. So do we cling to an apostate church because that is what we are supposed to do, as Jesus gave his life for a rotten world. Or do we cling because we are afraid to use our judgement and the light that God gives us to discern His works from Satan’s works, His ways from the ways of the world? If the latter, then let us do so with God’s blessing!

    • danielkclim says:

      Yes and yes again to all that you have written about the world’s fallen ways being happily imported into or maintained in the church. Another word to describe the grief you and i may feel is ‘anathema’ – a form of disgust. Cry or vomit – perhaps both? I was challenged many years ago when i observed what i instantly felt at the time and also now in hindsight, was an abominable act by the pastor in church – i walked out quietly from the fellowship meeting. I regret having done that. What i should have done instead, was to have stood up to rebuke him openly! In hindsight, i would say that we are too well taught and trained to be polite and forgiving – or obedient and submissive. Rebuke a pastor, openly? Why not? Are pastors not human like the rest of us – liable to err? Our core practice, what we ought but what we seem not to do in our churches is to teach and practice true confession, repentance, forgiveness and restoration. Anything less than this is peddling Cheap Grace – the world’s way. The world may call it forbearance, even godly forbearance, or compassion, or compromise. Christian must recognise it all as Cheap Grace, as identified by Bonhoeffer in his book, “The Cost of Discipleship”. Doing things God’s way may well be less efficient or more expensive – getting things absolutely right, for eternity, is bound to cost more – indeed it surely “…demands my soul, my life, my all.” (Isaac Watts, Dissenter)

  5. daisymarygoldr says:

    Great post Poh! The church i.e. the body and head together is one person—Christ. Those who are born of God’s Spirit are added to the Church to be a part of Christ. Hence, whatever we do to a Christian we do to Christ.

    Every part of the body, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has a unique and vital function which only that part can perform. Once we realize how important a part is to make up a whole—we will stop feeling insignificant about ourselves.

    Independent spirit is a prideful spirit that tells another member I have no need of you. As you have rightly pointed out we’re mutually interdependent. Christians independent of others will be unstable believers. And no matter what our ministry is, it does not serve the purpose of Christ.

    Imagine if my hand decides to dislocate itself from my physical body and starts helping the poor and needy. People will be spooked by the phantom limb. I know this is a silly example but this is how Christians apart from the body, appear to others. Phantom Christians are false Christians. Their service is lifeless—it will not bring life and vitality to others. Actually, we know a missionary couple who stay away from the church. It is sad…

    Personally I’m convinced, because we have been baptized into the body of Christ by the same Spirit, we cannot work apart from the church. True Christians will use our God-given gifts to do our part as faithful members—and be built up as the complete body of Christ.

    • danielkclim says:

      Didn’t our Lord instruct his disciples, under certain circumstances, to walk away from a hostile position and to shake the dust from their sandals as a sign of their abandoning their original intention to follow His instruction and to bring the gospel to all those people? What if, the hostile people call themselves a church? The Bible warns us clearly in 2 Cor 11, that Satan’s servants can disguise themselves as godly ministers – so why not an entire church also?

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