Being the Church – OUCH!

While some of you might learn something for yourself from this post, this one is aimed at yours truly with both barrels!  It has to do with one of my main soapbox issues; yet, it is apparently one I haven’t yet listened to myself preach quite enough.  I’m talking about the need for the church to be the church.  What follows is what the Lord exposed in me.

Begrudgingly, with complaining and irritation in my heart, I made the call to the one who needed some spiritual help; not before I tried to pass it off, however, to the “official” church people.  As I began the conversation, I was merely going through the motions; by the time it was finished, God’s gift in me, and His love and compassion for the hurting one on the other end of the line were flowing freely, and He provided the needed help.  Later on, after the call was long-finished and the opportunity had passed, I realized I missed meeting a physical need, too.  I had let it go by unnoticed because I was, again, leaving it for “them” to do.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

What was so much more important than ministering to someone in need at that moment?  What was the real motivation behind making the “official” church people aware of the need?  I didn’t want to be the church this time.  I wanted to pick and choose who Jesus would touch through me.  It was, after all, an inconvenience of my time, plans, and efforts.  Let “the church” take care of it.  Who is “the church,” though?  I am.  I am the part of the church the Lord called on in this instance.

It appears I need to get back up on my soapbox and listen to what I’ve been saying for quite a while. “The church” isn’t bricks and mortar.  “The church” is the people who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  That would be me!  When there is a need the Lord has equipped me to meet, I’m not to call “the church” to tell them of the need.  I’m to ask Him what part of that need – spiritual, physical, or emotional – He wants to meet through me, and how I’m to proceed, not how I’m supposed to hand them off to “the church.”  I am to be the church!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Romans 12:4-6 NIV  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

The Lord has already given me everything needed for this person at this time.  It’s not that I have all the answers, or am even supposed to meet every physical or emotional need.  It’s that His gifts and blessings in me are more than enough for myself and others to know whatever part of Christ is the needed answer for that moment.

The ugly self-centeredness stood in stark contrast to the humility of Christ – again.  All I could do now was thank God from a freshly humbled heart for His amazing, new-every-morning mercy.  And for His more-than-enough grace that covered my begrudging obedience, so someone else could receive all He wanted to provide through this part of the church – through me.

The Plan

Matthew 26:36-44 NIV 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  . . .  38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  39 . . . he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping . . . 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

How do you usually read this passage?  Most likely, it takes only a few moments to read.  But let’s think about the actual passage of time involved – somewhere around an hour.  Do we really understand that during this time Jesus, having come to earth to live as a man, actually had to choose His course of action?  Even though He knew the Father’s path for Him, He really could have decided not to become sin nor go through the physical torture of crucifixion for us.

Jesus didn’t struggle in prayer just to fulfill prophecy.  He didn’t go back and repeat “Not My will, but Yours,” three times to give us a pattern of prayer.  When He told the disciples the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, He was letting them know the intense personal battle He waged as He asked again for their help in prayer.  Jesus’ flesh was not yielding easily in those long minutes, though His Spirit wanted to complete what He had come for.  Only after Jesus committed His will to Father’s will the third time was it completely settled in His heart.

Though He had more to do before the whole plan was totally fulfilled, the flesh was forever defeated in those last moments, and there would be no more wavering.  Jesus came to do the will of His Father, and in that last, most intense and agonizing temptation, He chose to finish His course.  He went forth from that place in victory, ready to endure the cross and all that led to it – for us.  Glory to God!