Casting Crowns, an American band, have a song “If We Are the Body” in this song they ask the question: if we are the body of Christ where is the evidence? Where is the power of the transforming Christ to be seen in our Christian communities reaching out to touch the world around? They suggest at one point in the song that perhaps the real body of Christ is not found in the back rows of our church buildings but out on the road travelling where people are. They leave us with the question to ponder, Why are we not functioning as Christ’s body?
In the reading today from Ephesians, Paul suggests an answer. It is only when we as individuals are willing to recognise our God given spiritual gifts for the upbuilding of the body that the evidence will appear. The gifts of preaching, teaching, healing, and administration and many more are all part of God’s strategy for equipping the church to transform lives and communities. They are mentioned in Romans 12 and also 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. The problem is that too many of us are happy to ignore God’s gifts to us, because in using them we discover serving each other and that is always a costly life to embrace but what a glorious embrace!
I want to be a useful follower
Not a back pew driver
I don’t want to get boxed into a seat
And never get out again
I always feel better out on the road
Meeting the world head on
I’m happy to walk
To my work
To learn on the job
Show me how
To be open to your Spirit
To open up the gift you’ve placed in me
Give me the courage
To learn how best to use it.
Show me how my gift works -
alongside the gifts of others
If we are your body
We need to grow up
And begin to do some serious work
Each one of us playing our part
Listening, praying, practising
Being like you.
Give us the courage to pay the price.
1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.’
9 (When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.