Love Story 1 – God shows love first, giving us life and offering us salvation. (image of God, value, not me first)
Love Story 2 – God’s love story includes unity, organic, spiritual. (God-shaped image, God-redeemed, strategic connect)
Love Story 3 – God’s love story includes creativity, benefit of community working together, body of Christ
God has placed us in connection with the body of believers.
In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, we read the analogy of Christ-followers as members of the “Body of Christ”. This was an object lesson that was familiar in the ancient world.
“ Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” – Romans 12:4-8
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-21
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles (Greeks), some are slaves, and some are free.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The same God gives each person a valuable life, identity, purpose, unique gifts, and a place in the “Body of Christ”. It is God’s idea that each “member” be connected to the “body”. We cannot say that we do not need each other. We must see the value in each other. We need each other. We are better together.
God’s purpose for the “Body of Christ” includes His design and plan for each person. It includes the good health of each member. Ephesians 4:16 It includes His purpose for the whole body.
Our connectedness is vital. We must show love and respect for each other. We should be learning more about each other. Learning about each other’s stories will help us show love and respect to each other, in deeper ways. We should be constantly looking for ways in which our strengths can collaborate for common good, according to God’s design.
What do we learn?
- The unique attributes and abilities of each member of the body include God’s purpose that we help each other 1 Corinthians 12:7, caring for each other 1 Corinthians 12:25.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other,” – 1 Corinthians 12:7
“This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.” – 1 Corinthians 12:25
“Conflict often comes between sections of the Body of Christ when people get focused on the differences rather than on the common good that the differences were to work toward.” (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4) “We are not to look negatively at the differences. We are to look at the benefit that all of them can produce by working together.” – Lanny Hubbard
We can’t help each other if we don’t know each other. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” – Matthew 7:12
- This means that we celebrate together, and we suffer together 1 Corinthians 12:26. This does not mean that we ask any member to accept a state of being oppressed. Instead we work for the good of each other.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
The love of Jesus should be guiding us to learning relationships where we get to know each other better. Then we will be able to truly help each other. We may be able to encourage each other through the healing process out of deep internal longing, pain, negative self-talk.
- All this springs from a context of our growing more like Jesus, together, full of love. Ephesians 4:15-16
“We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” – Ephesians 4:15-16
“I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” – 1 Corinthians 1:2
How should we respond?
- Each of us are responsible to let the Spirit renew our thinking and attitudes. Ephesians 4:23
“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” – Ephesians 4:23
- Each of us are responsible to speak helpful words of encouragement to each other. Ephesians 4:15, 29
“We will speak the truth in love,” – Ephesians 4:15
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29
- Each of us are responsible to forgive each other. Ephesians 4:32
“Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32