The first time I heard the church called “The Body of Christ” was right around the time I read an elementary-aged adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels. The image that left me with was of Gulliver waking up in Lilliput, being fed by a seemingly endless line of Lilliputians who were sharing so much that their land was in danger of famine. In 7-year-old Kate’s mind it made sense—we, the Lilliputians, were supposed to serve the church, Gulliver! The metaphor falls apart quickly, but on the surface, it definitely paints a vivid mental image!
The rest of Gulliver’s time in Lilliput and his subsequent adventures do not work quite as well as a pseudo-biblical parallel, but that image of sacrificially working alongside fellow Lilliputians, fulfilling their call as citizens, serves as a weirdly helpful reminder of how we’re to work in community to build up the church.
What does it actually mean to build into the body of Christ? 2 Corinthians 9 talks about being a cheerful giver. We’re instructed to give freely of our time and resources, meeting the needs of those around us as an act of thanksgiving and worship. Ephesians 4 speaks of our role in the body of believers, which is to build up the body. Luke 10 calls us to love our neighbor, using the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrificial service. Jesus’s ministry was marked by care for orphans, widows, outcasts, and the “unlovable.” There are innumerable examples throughout Scripture to support the simple fact that we, as believers, are called to serve the local church.
The church in Acts 2, while far from perfect, exemplifies what it means to live as the body of Christ. People were giving all they had to live in community with the believers around them. Their pursuit of that fellowship was marked by a radical generosity so that none in the body would be without.
Personally, I don’t have a house to sell to fund the next Bridge Course, and most of my earthly possessions are from Target’s clearance racks. What we do have, however, is much more valuable than a 5-year old cardigan: our time, and the ways that God has uniquely gifted us to serve Him.
There are so many areas where God can use you to play your part in that building up—even if you don’t feel like it’s an area where you feel particularly gifted!
- Maybe you find yourself out of your element in the kitchen, but you can flex your hospitality muscles by plating Wegmans muffins for an Explore class.
- Not the most organized and administratively gifted? I’d bet you’d be invaluable to our administrative team helping to check folks in at a conference!
- Do you feel like you’re not a great encourager? Text a friend and tell her how much you appreciate what she shared at your last Community Group.
- Are you short on time because God has you in a busy season of work or raising your children full-time? Those commutes to the office or volleyball practice make for an excellent time to lift up those around you in prayer.
The examples in Scripture show service to the church as acts of thanksgiving and worship to God. But they also show us how kind God is to call us to serve him, while blessing us with fellowship with those around us! Nothing can make a church feel more like home than by helping to build into it. Serving alongside brothers and sisters allows us to exercise our giftings, while forging relationships and fellowship we don’t get by just being a part of the congregation between 10 and 11:30 AM every Sunday. If you’re struggling to feel connected or to relate to specific ministries, I strongly encourage you to find somewhere to practice serving in the church!