Every spring, for the past six years, I have watched the farmer plow his field. Our home is built on the northern-most street in our home town, and adjacent to our back yard is the field you see in the photograph.
The farmer attacks this field every spring like clockwork, and it always occurs at a time when my wife is out of state visiting family. I playfully send her a text message each spring to let her know that the agricultural stage-play has begun – “The farmer, yea, verily he doth plow.” We like the farmer, and we enjoy watching the activity in this field, whether it is the farmer’s activity, the varied crops that grow in the field, or the wildlife that congregates there.
One of the more fascinating aspects of watching the farmer work his field is noting the variety of farming implements he uses in doing so. He will plow it, not just once, but five or six times, and he will use different plows with each pass over the field. Some of the plows dig deeply into the soil to break the compaction that has occurred during the off-season. Other plows disc the soil, breaking large chunks into smaller ones. He has a plow that will upend the soil while injecting fertilizer deep within it, and another plow that grinds up the soil while sprinkling powdered substances on top. The plow in the photograph furiously churns the soil like a high-speed roto-tiller, while a trailing row of wheels on the back re-flattens the soil.
I am not a farmer, so I do not pretend to understand the full function of the various implements with which our neighbor works his field, but I enjoy speculating regarding the plethora of tools and activities that are required to accomplish one ultimate purpose – growing a healthy crop.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. – (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – ESV)
In the same way the farmer uses multiple farming implements to achieve a single purpose, and each utility plays a specific role in the farming task, so each of us has a purpose or a role in the body of Christ, and our role is critical to the body accomplishing its purposes. Below, are five reasons your role, regardless of what it is or how you view it, is important to the body.
1 – God Created My Role
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – (Ephesians 2:10 – ESV)
For me to refuse to walk in the good works God prepared for me is no less egregious than if I were to refuse to love, to refuse to give to those in need, to refuse to pray, or to confess Christ before men. Consider the brazen impudence of having God prepare good works specifically for me, and me saying to God, “Nah, I don’t think I’m going to do that.”
2 – I Am Part of a Greater Whole
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27 – ESV)
When I was a youth, it was common for kids to have their tonsils removed. Some youngster would get a sore throat, the tonsils would become enlarged, and a doctor would snip them out as routinely as we clip off our fingernails and toenails. The common belief was that the tonsils do not do much, and were really more of a nuisance than anything. Now we know that the tonsils are loaded with white blood cells that play an important role in fighting respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. What was once believed to be a meaningless body part has been found to be critical to good health, and those who have had them removed are more prone to respiratory and gastrointestinal health problems.
So it is with the body of Christ. What I may be tempted to view as unimportant is critical. We are “one body” in Christ. If I remove myself from that whole, it becomes something less than it was. Now it is 9/10ths of a body. Notice, also, that the members serve the body rather than the body serving the members. An organism that feeds on the body but does not contribute to the body’s welfare is a parasite.
3 – My Role is Unique to Me
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them – (Romans 12:4-6a – ESV)
Consider what occurs when one part of our body fails to function as it was designed to function. We get sick. If my lungs are not functioning properly, I do not get oxygen to the other vital organs of my body. Though it is the lungs that have decided they just don’t want to do their job, my whole body suffers for their dysfunction. If my pancreas decides to go on vacation, I become diabetic and have to alter my eating habits and probably have to take insulin injections. If my big toe decides to leave, I must learn to walk and to maintain balance without the function of that vital body part. My thumb cannot offer that balancing function, just as my ear cannot produce insulin, and my tongue cannot collect oxygen for my body. Every part has a unique and necessary function. If this were not so, the body would be frustratingly out of balance.
4 – I Do Not Stand Alone as an Individual
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another – (Romans 12:5 – ESV)
The phrase “one another” is scattered throughout the New Testament in fifty-eight places, forty of those from Paul. Here we are members of one another – some translations say that we “belong” to each other. I am a member of you, and I belong to you. Paul describes us as being “built together” as a single entity, that we work together with singularity of purpose and in harmony with those to whom we belong and of whom we are members.
5 – My Role is a Gift of Grace
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them – (Romans 12:6a – ESV)
We never want to presume upon God’s grace. To spurn the gift we have been given is an act of profound ingratitude, and it is quite foolish when we consider the identity of the gift giver. Can we even fathom a more gracious giver of gifts than our heavenly Father?
A gift of grace precludes any notion that God owes us anything. Indeed, it is his mercy that withholds what we deserve. The gifting of God is grace upon grace, borne entirely of his goodness.
One last word from Paul on this subject:
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 – NASB)
Victoriously in Christ!
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Over to you: How does knowing you belong to all other members of the body of Christ affect your view of your life in Christ?
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