14/07/2014 by Chris Green
I nearly lost my nerve yesterday.
I was preaching on Romans 12:1-8, about being a body with a variety of interdependent gifts. “Every Christian needs every other Christian to be fully engaged.” “You can have a day off from being a policeman, or a banker, or a performer. You just don’t get a day off being a disciple.” “Serving isn’t about status or earning a star. Grab a towel.” You know the drill.
And I was looking round a church that I’m coming to know, and with the hurts and troubles that each one is carrying: redundancy, illness, childlessness, all in one day’s ministry.
So I started to think, maybe all this talk about gifts and serving isn’t quite what we need. Maybe we need a different emphasis for a while, less focussed, more caring and supportive. perhaps I’m being lured down a false path of drawing up an organisation matrix, when what we actually need is something more like a hospital, for hurting people.
But what does Paul say about the body? ‘If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it’ (1 Cor. 12:26)
It’s of the essence of the idea of the body that we care for and serve each other, and love each other when it hurts. What a strange idea of serving, that I could only do that when I’m pain free, struggle free, sin free myself. How much healthier to say we are all disciples who, at various points, hurt, but that hurt doesn’t define us. Our gospel hope does. Weak, suffering Christians can still serve.
Hurt doesn’t define us. Our gospel hope does.
I didn’t need to change the model at all. The body works in hard times, too.
There’s a chapter on using gifts in the local church in my book ‘Assemble the people before me’, available here.