At Renew we’ve been going through some ministry values, and the third says this:
“We are called to offer genuine family support built on trust and vulnerability. Doing life together allows us to experience God’s healing presence through difficulty, and at the same time celebrating the joyful life he intended.”
Romans 12:5 says something that is easy to ignore in our culture: “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” How about that for a picture of what the church is called to be? If you read this passage in the Message translation, it helps us get a better idea of what Paul means.
In vs 1-2 he says, “Embrace what God does…Don’t just get comfy in this culture…The result: You’ll be changed/mature.”
That sounds difficult, but there’s something else to ponder here about how we do this. In vs 3 he says, “…it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” So he says that God does this good stuff in us; it doesn’t come from ourselves. And it’s important, he says. What does that even mean? How do we understand ourselves through God?
This is hard to grasp so he gives an example in human terms, which gets us back to our ministry value:
vs 4-6 “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?”
We get the idea here. An arm by itself is useless and really has no purpose. But an arm is quite helpful when connected to the body. Think of this concept within a family system: a child needs a parent in order to survive. Or a sports team: each person has a different and important role. Paul is saying in Romans that we find our meaning and function when we work together. We find our true value as part of God’s family. And we come to understand that when we embrace what HE does. It’s not about what WE do.
Picture the vastness of the universe. Scale that down to just our little earth. And now imagine yourself as just a speck of dust in comparison. My life (my meaning and function) is a tiny part of this whole thing. There’s something so much bigger than me. We understand this concept as a member of a team. If you win a championship, you feel that you’ve contributed to something so much bigger than just your individual role. It has very little to do with you, but life feels great in that moment.
Knowing God is like that, and knowing ourselves lies somewhere in there too. We need this church system to truly find our meaning and function. We are family. We belong to each other. So let’s support each other, which requires trust and vulnerability. This is our ministry value. Are you willing to open up?