Church articles

We Believe

One Body

Rev. Graham Schultz

March 2024

It was a Friday night of my HSC year when I snapped my cruciate ligament in my left knee while youth group leading. I won’t explain the game, but it was called “Ball of Death” and involved a medicine ball filled with rocks and about 3 meters of rope. Recovery to near full mobility was at least ten months, two operations, and enough time to perfect some balancing tricks with crutches. Living without your body’s full capacity is complicated and difficult. Anyone with a current or past injury knows this. Anyone with a medical condition or chronic illness truly knows this. The amount of extra work required to do what many bodies do naturally, is hard to understand until you experience it. A body needs all its limbs and their unique differences to function freely.

In Romans 12:5 Paul takes this image of a body with its limbs and applies it to church, the gathering of God’s people.

In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

In this passage each individual Christian is a member of a whole body. Simply, the church is the gathered body of those individuals who are followers of Jesus. Christ has gathered them to God, as his family, so it stands to reason for a body to move, to function freely and maintain its health, all limbs, all members need to work and serve.

Earlier in Romans (12:1) Paul urges them to consider the kind of service and work they offer as a

direct response to God.

He says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”  

Paul is linking our serving, working, and living to being an act of worship, by always keeping God’s mercy in sight, as the reason for each action. In our lives we are to

express the work that God has mercifully done in Christ. The Christian and their work or service is no longer for themselves, or for any other reason, rather it’s for God. They are set apart for his pleasure in holy worship by all they do. It naturally follows that offering ourselves like this, transforms how we think of our role in church, as a member of the body of Christ. Paul goes on to articulate how this kind of service looks. He says from Romans 12:6-8;

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Serving at church in this light, is about the gift God gave you to benefit others. It is not a favour that you do to help out the ‘ministry team’, nor is it a charitable act if ‘a last minute gap arises’. It is instead a vital part of what it is to be a saved child of God and a member of Christ’s body.

Verse 6 is important for our understanding, that our different gifts are “according to God’s grace” and used in “accordance with your faith.” So Paul says simply and repeatedly, if you have the gift, then then humbly use your gift for the benefit of others (see Rom 12:3). Serve cheerfully (12:7) and generously (12:8). As we serve in the church according to our gifts we begin to live out the gospel in every area of life and enable others to do the same. Just as the fellowship of church exists because of what Christ has done, so we live out his work in service to one another. What a remarkable vision and motive to serve our brothers and sisters at St Jude’s.

Now don't take my word for it, go and read Romans 12:1-8 for yourself. It’s a passage with clear direction on who the Christian is and how to express their faith by serving the gathered people of God. From this passage, a question we can consider is; what kind of limb am  I in the body of Christ? However, don’t answer this question alone. God gave you a fellowship to help think it through. Let me encourage you to think, talk and pray about it with someone else. Find a friend at St Jude’s who you can grab a coffee with and after reading Romans 12:1-8 ask one another these three questions;

What is the importance of church from Romans 12:1-8? What challenges stop me from serving? Ask your friend with you, ‘where can you see me serving?’

The Christian and their work or service is no longer for themselves, or for any other reason, rather it’s for God. They are set apart for his pleasure in holy worship by all they do.