Every Christian has a unique combination of spiritual gifts that combined with their talents and abilities helps them to serve Christ’s church in submission and obedience to God’s Word and to the benefit and needs of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
The greatest barrier to a healthy church: one where Christians are discovering, developing and faithfully using their gifts is when they do so in service to self instead of service to Christ and others. I have already covered what the solution to self looks like and now I want to turn your attention to what it looks like when these gifts are properly used in the church.
For this, I will be looking in detail at the 12th chapter of the book of Romans. In the first 2 verses we see that in view of our salvation, in view of the grace and mercy of God in dying for us, our fundamental and foundational and ultimate obligation to God is the supreme worship we demonstrate when we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)
God's plan for His church is that His people will be unified in His Son, Jesus Christ but diverse in their roles and gifts for use in the church. There is no context in life or in the Word of God in which a Christian can be committed to Christ and yet be lazy, inactive, or void of service to that same Christ. In fact, in today’s world there is zero excuse to be inactive in service to Christ and each other because the enemy of our souls and the god of this world, Satan, is on the attack now more than ever. God expects each Christian to use their unique combination of spiritual gifts in obedience to Christ and in service to their fellow brethren.
If you serve God, if you love the brethren, you will stand out in this world. There is no avoiding it. It would be very easy to just sink back into the crowd and go through the motions. This is not what is expected of us as Christians. We are to image Christ in this world and to the degree that we do that, we will stand out in this world.
However, standing out in the world does not remove the unity we are to have as Christians. Just because one person has one combination of gifts and someone else has another combination does not mean that one person is more important than another. It follows that just because a person's unique combination of gifts causes them to have a role that is more prominent in the church or in the way that they stand out in the world doesn't mean that they are more important than the one working behind the scenes.
So, what does "One Body In Christ" mean?
1. One Body In Christ means we have complete unity in Christ. We are equal in Christ. No one is left out.
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Notice what Paul says picking up in verse 3, “do not think too highly of ourselves.” We are not to in our thoughts exceed the limits of who we actually are, meaning that we are to have sound judgment and humility concerning ourselves as we seek to determine our place in the body.
So, the first thing to understand concerning what it looks like when spiritual gifts are being used properly in the church is that even though they are highly important they are still not what ultimately defines us. We do not classify ourselves by what spiritual gifts we have. We don’t put the givers over here and the teachers over there and the encouragers over there.
Every believer is given the exact gift they need to fulfill their role in the body of believers but it remains just that, a body of believers and they are believers in Jesus Christ. NOTHING will change the fact that our unity is always in Christ. While our gifts are important, we are not to think too highly of ourselves as to think that we are somehow more important than someone else simply because of what our gift is. In fact, there is no room for thinking too highly of ourselves in the body of Christ. Humility is always our prescription.
2. One Body In Christ Means we have true diversity of roles in the body. The common thread is that we all are called to obedience to God’s Word.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 NASB)
We all have a role, we all have a place, we all have a combination of spiritual gifts that have been given to us by the Holy Spirit to uniquely place us in the body of Christ. The diversity of roles is to make sure that the body has everything that it needs.
Much like a football team would not succeed if every player was a Quarterback, the church would not be successful if every member was a pastor. It would also not be successful if every member was a giver, or a teacher, or an encourager.
The body of Christ thrives because of its unity but also because of its diversity in roles. We need all members. We need the givers, we need the encouragers, we need the teachers, we need the leaders, we need the discerners, we need the encouragers, we need those with mercy, WE NEED EVERYBODY!
3. One Body In Christ Means if we are truly dedicated to Christ then we will serve the body of Christ. We will serve each other in humility and agape love.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. (Romans 12:9-10 NASB)
(v.9) – Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy (sincere, unhypocritical, NOT A PHONY, free from hidden agendas, free from selfish motives). Abhor or detest what is evil, be glued or bonded to that what is good.
The body of Christ would be able to serve God, preach the gospel, make disciples, impact our community, and truly love each other if we would just simply eradicate SELF! Love without hypocrisy! Love without selfish motives or agendas.
And Paul says that we are to be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Give preference to one another in honor. The main verb in verse 10 is the words translated “give preference.” It is a Greek word meaning go before as a leader, I lead by example. We are to give preference to one another in honor, so what this verse is literally saying is, “In honor, keep on giving preference to each other.” What is honor? It is a Greek word meaning a valuing, a price, perceived value or worth; what has value in the eyes of the beholder.
What this means is that when we view each other, when we view our fellow Christians we are to view them as having more worth than ourselves.
We are putting them first above ourselves.
We treat them as more important than ourselves.
To honor someone in this way is to genuinely show appreciation for them. It means that our appreciation will not be hypocritical or a counterfeit appreciation. It means that we will seek to lift them up and to meet their needs. It means that we will seek to love them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.