You matter to the Body of Christ. You may feel overlooked when you enter a church building. You may feel unequipped when it comes to ministry. You may feel uneducated when it comes to the Bible, but you are an extremely important link in the Body of Christ.
Unfortunately in our churches today, many members of the Body have been reduced to pew warmers who occupy a space for an hour on a Sunday morning. This is not what God had in mind for any Christian when they join up to the Body of believers. It doesn’t matter if you are poor or if you have a disability or if you are extremely shy or if you have no experience—God has a unique place for every believer, not just those with good looks and an outgoing personality. As Paul expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” Paul didn’t say that only those with a degree in theology or who have a musical gift are a necessary part of the Body. Paul emphasized that each member of the Body is a necessary part.
So if we are all a necessary part of the Body and if some of our members aren’t carrying out their role, then how is the Body functioning? That’s a good question, but the answer isn’t very easy to swallow: the Body of Christ isn’t functioning the way that it should be. When any one part of the Body stops working like it should, it effects the way the entire Body functions. Today, in the church of Christ as a whole, we do have many parts that have stopped functioning. They are not all visible, but that doesn’t mean the damage that is occurring is any less dangerous.
To clarify, let me use an example. Let’s say in your own physical body the nerve endings in your left hand stopped functioning. Looking at your hand, you can’t see any difference whatsoever and you can’t detect that anything is wrong. Until one day, you pick up an extremely hot frying pan. You hold it in your hand until you start to smell burning flesh, and then you look down and see that your hand is grotesquely burned. You see, without those nerve endings, no signal that something was wrong went to the brain. So by the time your other senses (i.e. smell and sight) kicked in, the damage was done. The same thing is occurring in our church today.
In truth, every time a believer does not fulfill their function within the Body, damage is done. Sometimes the other parts of the Body may notice and try to cover for the missing part, but since they have not been designed for that role, they cannot fully make up for what is missing. When God designed His family, He left no part in lacking. Every single part (or person) of the Body of Christ is more than properly equipped to carry out their function.
So then the question I want to ask you is how well have you been performing your function in the Body of Christ? You may go to church on Sundays, you may attend Bible study, you may even be active in ministry, but that is not the same thing as fulfilling your individual role in the Body. Some people are gifted in teaching, others have the gift of music, some are natural leaders, and then there are others who have less visible, but equally important gifts. The gift of faith, the ability to encourage, evangelism, a prayer warrior, I could go on and on. There are so many important ministries that are not visible and many of them occur outside of our churches physical walls.
There are those who have been called to minister to lonely seniors in nursing homes, there are others who open their homes for visitors, there are those who have the gift of reaching out to people around them, etc. We all have our role in the Body and it is our responsibility to carry out our function and not worry about what any other member is doing. As Paul pointed out to the church in Corinth, there are some parts of the Body whose specific purpose involves not being seen. Imagine what it would look like in our physical bodies if our intestines were visible—I don’t think it would attract too many people. In the same way, many parts of the Body must remain unseen in order to do their work effectively. We are not called to question those people in the church or silently judge their so-called “lack of involvement.” Rather, we must learn to respect and care for each member, not only those with a visible ministry.
Invest time in determining your role in the Body of Christ. Even though you may not see it, you are an extremely important and valuable part of the Body and the role that God has for you does have an effect on every believer out there. Never allow yourself to buy the lie that your lack of involvement is an issue between yourself and God. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said so wisely:
In a Christian community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them.[Kristen McNulty is a 21-year-old university student who lives in Timmins, Ontario, Canada. In her free time she hosts and produces the syndicated Making A Difference (MAD) Christian Radio Show.]