Good morning, I pray you had an enjoyable Independence Day celebration yesterday. One of the the opportunities we have as followers of King Jesus is to know the Scriptures and be able to, through the power of the Holy Spirit remember and practice the wisdom God has given us through the Scriptures. In these crazy times here is one to commit to memory.
Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Unity is the Body
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So, he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross.
4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
We in the West understand the "efforts" we make, in the body, to be an individualistic attempt to make thing work as a body. For instance, if I do my part and each person does his/her part things will work together. We will be unified as long as each person does his/her part. What we read in the Scriptures is that Jesus is the head, meaning He is the director, equipper, sustainer, of all things… Vs Col 1:18 So, he is first in everything. It is Jesus working in us individually so that unity is obtained and maintained. In Acts we find this in action! (Acts2:42-47-community, 4:32-36-sharing, 6:1-7-deacon).
When we read the forming of the church, the Body of Christ, in Acts; Ephesians 4 and Philippians 2 it is imperative that we keep them in context with Colossians 1, John 15, Jesus is the source of our faith, strength, and growth so that we are always humble, gentle, allowing for other’s faults, and that our efforts to keep united is a reality. When we think of the Kingdom of Heaven work God is doing, we remember we are grafted into the vine and apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Last week we spent time looking at what is means to work in the Kingdom of Heaven, it is about bearing good fruit (Fruit of the Holy Spirit) and about being co-workers (what God is doing in us) to join Him in what He is doing. Nothing to do with my individual might or strength. The individual development of someone is not so that “I” stand out, it is so that the Church, God’s people, function as one and we stand out. 1 Corinthians 12:12-21 gives us insight to the oneness.
1 Corinthians 12:12-21...One Body with Many Parts
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So, it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, "I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."
When each part of the body is “built together with peace,” the whole body will be one. It is Jesus who brings the peace and it is Jesus who, through the Holy Spirit, maintains the peace that is required for the body to be united. Even now as I am preparing to close for this time together, I find myself beginning to focus on my individual approach to the Kingdom life God has brought to me. When in all reality my focus should be on fulfilling that part of the body for which I have been called, the whole body is built up and full of Love (Ephesians 4:14-16).
Oh, Dear God, thank you for the Light you have brought to our lives. Thank you, that we can seek your heart and mind for the good we so desperately desire. Thank you, that through your Son, Christ Jesus, we have life that is full and complete. Oh, dear Heavenly Father, that you would permeate the life you have given, with such grace and love there is no room nor place for a self-centered view of life as a follower of Jesus our Prophet, Priest and King. Please Lord, empower your children, me included, to die to self, to take on your yoke, and be set free from the entanglements of living for selfish gain. Help us to know what the eye sees, what the ear hears, what the heart receives so that the hands and feet can join you in what you are doing. To you be the Glory for ever and ever, In the Name of Jesus we pray. AMEN