The Body of Christ
Probably most of what is called “church” today is not the church, i.e. it is not the body of Christ. For, most “churches,” at least here in America, are man-made institutions, which are businesses, marketed to the world just like any other business. They are physical buildings and denominations, too.
The true church, on the other hand, is spiritual, not physical, although it is made up of people who live in physical bodies. But the church itself is a living organism, not a physical organization. And the stones in its construction are not brick and mortar but they are living stones, which are the people of God, with Jesus as our chief cornerstone.
These human institutions, thus, do not have Jesus Christ as their head, for they are of man, not of God. I’m not saying that no one gathering with these institutions has Jesus as his or her head, but that the man-made institutions themselves are not the church, and Jesus is not their head.
Thus, most of these gatherings are not being led by the Spirit of God but they are being directed by the thinking of man and by marketing books on how to grow their churches and by self-help books and by books written by famous authors, some of whom are not teaching the inspired word of God.
Parts of the body of Christ do meet with these businesses of men called “church,” but it is a mixture of the body of Christ and the world. And the way many of these “churches” operate is also a mixture of Scriptural principles and worldly philosophies and business models for how to do “church.”
So, since these “churches” are run more like businesses, not many are operating as God intended, nor can they if half or more of their congregations are composed of the people of the world who are not in genuine relationship with the Lord, and thus they are not his body.
1 Corinthians 12:14-20 ESV
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
When this speaks of body parts such as a foot, hand, head, eye, and ear, this is speaking metaphorically to illustrate a lesson. And the lesson is that we are all different because God made us all different, so we aren’t all going to be exactly the same, and that is a good thing!
So, just because we don’t have the same ministry or the same talents or the same gifts as someone else, it does not make us less and them better, or us better and them less. Different is not less or better. It just means we each have different roles (functions, parts) as God has assigned.
Each one of us is necessary to the proper working of the body, but this just can’t happen in these institutional (state) churches which are following business models and not the Holy Spirit. This can only happen in the gatherings of the true church which is comprised only of those who have died with Christ to sin that they might live to Christ and to his righteousness.
And this can only happen if the leaders of these gatherings of the true church are in tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit and if they are following these Scriptures (all of them) which teach how the body is supposed to function, for most “churches” today are all lopsided.
Nonetheless, I have seen the body mostly functioning as God intended, but not in person under the leadership of pastors and elders, but on the internet on social media and on Christian websites and blogs. Here, for now, we have the freedom to use the gifts God has given to us for the building up of the body of Christ to unity of faith and maturity in Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:21-26 ESV
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
And here on the internet I am seeing this Scripture in 1 Co 12 being fulfilled, where God is giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there is no division in the body, but that we have equal concern for one another. I see the body life taking place here. But it is not perfect.
But when I was attending institutional (state) churches, that was not the case, for the most part. For, they were being run like businesses, and thus their pastors were being trained to run their churches like businesses and to weed out those not on board with their “business model” and to target those who they could get to comply and who they could mold to their image.
So, they are definitely being trained to say to parts of the body, “We have no need of you,” and they are encouraging them/us to “go someplace else” where they/we will be “a better fit.” For, we don’t fit with their business model for how to do “church.” I agree!
But, since so many of us grew up in these institutional (state) churches, thinking this was “the church,” which it partially was or mostly was in some cases, when we were told they didn’t need us or want us, it was a crushing blow for some of us who had not yet matured to the point in our walks of faith to where we understood that God still had sovereignty over all.
So, if this is where you are, and your “church” is telling you that they don’t need you, but you are truly walking with the Lord, so it isn’t that you are living in sin, be encouraged that God is in control and that his body is not limited by these institutions of men. He will provide you a place to serve him. Just seek his guidance and trust him to show you the way.
When we follow Jesus with our lives, we will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was, and his persecutors were the religious leaders in the temple of God. So, don’t be surprised if some of your greatest rejection and persecution comes from within these institutional churches, and even from pastors and elders.
But since we are all human, know that even if we are meeting with the pure body of Christ outside of these institutions, we can still face rejection and persecution from those who are not walking closely with the Lord. But remember that the Lord is with you and he is still in control, so trust him to work it all out for his purposes and just keep obeying him.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.