31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.
The Body of Christ
One Body – the representative Body of Christ is the unification of Jews and Gentiles; a culmination of all nations who by faith in Jesus Christ have become part of the community of faith. Thus the Body of Christ.
Many Parts - Arms, shoulders…, but one body.
Every part of the body has a purpose – the heart pumps blood…
Each part created to serve God – wholeheartedly - with everything that is in us.
Some parts work behind the scenes You can’t see the heart, but it is crucial to the function …
Other parts are louder and more obvious Everyone can see the mouth, or certainly hear it…
When parts stop functioning – the body is a system of parts that depend upon each other…
The entire body suffers
You are the eyes … God may have called you to be a watchman in the ministry, discernment…
The ears – discernment or the gift of listening to others and counseling…
The hands – the ministry of helps. God may have called you to assist in the work of ministry…
The feet – to be a stander in the house of the Lord in prayer and spiritual warfare for the saints.
And the mouth – to forth speak the Word of God or to prophesy, or sing His praises…
You are the Body of Christ, it's not longer just about you. Each of us who has accepted Christ as savior and Lord are a part of it. Jesus Christ is the head.
The challenge that God presents to us today is to, Live Our Part in the Body; to do our part to lovingly and faithfully worship God and to serve one another in the family of faith. When we hear the words Come to Jesus, we often think it only applies to those who have not accepted Christ as Savior, but if you have accepted Christ as savior, it also applies to you. Paul is speaking to Philippian Christians, and us as well by application, in the 2nd chapter of that book when he says, "Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus." He was clarifying what it means to come to Jesus.
He was telling us that to come to Jesus requires a change of mindset, where we are no longer self-centered, but where we become Christ-centered. Where we esteem others higher than ourselves. And there we find the crux of the matter. Even the church is becoming so self-centered that less and less people are allowing their gifts to be used to serve in the Body of Christ. We have to Come to Jesus. We question the effectiveness of the church, with checking ourselves - whether we have truly made ourselves available as parts of the Lord's Body.
We're living in a world that is certainly waxing colder and colder, and the church is doing the same. Rather than standing up for the truth, we're falling for every trick and lie that the enemy is tossing our way. The world systems declare that what is right is wrong, and what is wrong is right. The divorce rate in America, or should I say the world, is at an all time high. Living together without marriage is trending in such a way that to use the term "shacking up," is now foreign and taboo. In fact, many of you may be wondering, "What is taboo?" Because this is the season of anything goes. It's really time to come to Jesus!
Prayer has been taken out of schools a long time ago, our moral values have taken a road shift, and now, just to name one of the countless results, our children are being taught a new definition for family that is not consistent with the family that God - the creator of the universe instituted. It's time to come to Jesus. Secularization is the technical name for it, but it is the spirit of anti-christ that is running rampant in the world in these last days. It's time to come to Jesus and live! I used to think that the change would come when it actually steps up in the church and causes the church to truly experience it, but it already has - many times over! Our families and communities are all part of the fallout. For so long, we've been looking outside of the doors of the church to extend love and hope for healing and deliverance, that we've forgotten about those that stayed home! We've forgotten about those in our own holy houses!
Our children are engaging in pre-marital sex, which naturally leads to pre-marital pregnancy, and in increasing numbers sexually transmitted diseases. All of this activity affect not only our generation, but generations to come! As seed has been planted that has produced weeds of destruction, and must be uprooted if the garden is to survive! It seems so nonsensical for this to be the state of the body that has been snatched out of the darkness and brought into the marvelous light, but the Word of God declares that the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.Matt. 11:12 The effects of this onslaught come to an end when we come to ourselves, and realize our need for the Savior of our souls. If any of this hits home with you my brothers and sisters, and you find yourself in a back-slidden state, it's time to come to Jesus!
In the story of the prodigal son, we often focus on the son who left home and wasted all his goods on rivalrous living, but he wasn't the only one who was in a backslidden state. The son who stayed home, knew where his brother was, had the cultural responsibility as the first-born in his family to go search for his brother. Yet he remained in his father's house - working in his father's fields. He had access to power and privilege in his father's house, yet it would appear that he busied himself as a servant to avoid the responsibility that he had as a prince. And when his brother returned home to the high place of his calling, the brother didn't know his brother had returned.
This parable that Jesus told is often called the Parable of the Lost Son, but which son was really lost? By the end of the parable one son was lost, but had been found. And while a celebration was taking place in his father's house the elder son was outside. Angry. Refusing to enter into the house. Broken. Lost. Yet the father came out to meet him where he was.
Have you submitted to the move of the Holy Spirit to be used in the Body of Christ for the Glory of God and the up-building of the Kingdom of God? Not just outside the church, but inside of the church also. Because since we are baptized by One Spirit into One Body, we serve One Lord. We have been empowered to preach the truth in Love: “There is no other name under Heaven by which anyone may be saved, except the name of Jesus the Christ,” with our words and with our lives. And so we say with both, "Come to Jesus, and live."
The world may call it arrogant, ignorant, or intolerant, but because it leads those whom God has called us to love, as he loved us out of the darkness and into the marvelous light, So Be It! Jesus said if I be lifted up from the earth, I’ll draw all men unto me.” God has baptized the people of God by the Holy Spirit into One Body. It's prime directive in the more excellent way, is to love, as Christ is Love. May the redeemed of the Lord be empowered today in the name of Jesus Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit to say it is so in thought and Word and Deed. AMEN.
In His Service,
Pastor E. Barber