Tag Archive for Body of Christ


He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12-13, NASB)

It started with one Chinese man, a medical research scientist who came to our Sunday School class at the invitation of a co-worker. Soon his wife was attending with him, then two more couples, fellow scientists from mainland China.

They were spiritually and culturally curious. They wanted to learn more about the life and language of America. But having been raised in an atheistic society, they also came with spiritual questions.

We soon found that because of their limited language skills and biblical knowledge, our regular Sunday School class wasn’t enough for them. So we began meeting with them an hour before class. It was Bible 101. We started by introducing them to the scriptures from the ground up. Then we watched the Jesus film together, discussing each scene one by one. At the end, our version of the film addressed dozens of basic questions about the Christian faith. We used those questions to lead our friends into a greater understanding of life in Christ. Next, we began reading through Genesis together, talking and teaching as we went.

Those two and one half years were memorable in so many ways. I remember our first Christmas with them. We brought in a small manger scene, and from us they heard that magnificent story for the very first time.

I remember the Sunday we encouraged them to pray the sinner’s prayer along with us. With all the barriers of language and spiritual understanding, we wondered how much had gotten through to them.

But I particularly remember one man blossoming in his faith. In spite of a horrendous work schedule, Jinyu began praying daily. He read the Bible on his own, bringing in questions that showed he was thinking about it broadly and deeply. He began witnessing to his Chinese friends. He asked us about ancestor worship, knowing that when he next gathered with his family, they would expect him to participate.

But my favorite memory is the morning he came in beaming, saying that he had been asked to read scripture in our main worship service. We were pleased along with him, but also surprised. Jinyu was a gentle, sweet-spirited man whose English was less than perfect. Our church was large, and scripture readers were chosen for their speaking ability. We wondered how well his reading would be understood.

That morning service focused on missions. It included a parade of flags, special music, and a missionary speaker. When it came time for the morning scripture reading, a half dozen or so people came forward. Together they read Psalm 98, each one reading selected verses in a foreign language.

Jinyu read, not in English, but in Chinese, and we were stunned! We had only heard him speak in English, his second language. His speaking was always halting and broken. We had never heard the man who read that morning. He was bold, strong, and fluent. He was eloquent! He was speaking in his own native language. He was at home. He was fully himself.

As I reflect back on that morning, I think about the Body of Christ. I think about all the personalities and cultures that make it up, in all their God-given diversity. What would the Body be like if each of its members were fully, completely themselves? What if all that individuality could blossom into the beauty and variety intended by our Creator, yet still remain one in Christ? Squeezing living things into narrow, artificial molds is constrictive and stifling. It is unnatural. Becoming all our Creator intended us to be is wonderfully freeing and enriching, both to the individual and to the Body. An eye makes a better eye than it does an arm.

That freedom, that blossoming is coming. In fact, it is happening right now as the Holy Spirit nurtures and renews each individual. He assures us that the One who began this good work in us will complete it (Philippians 1:6). Each flower will blossom into its full uniqueness, lovingly nurtured by its Creator. Together, what a garden we will be!

Each of us will speak our own native language, fluently and eloquently. And in Christ all those individual expressions will blend into one universal language: the language of magnificent truth; the language of pure love.

At last we will be all that His love purposed us to be: His holy bride, stunningly beautiful, radiant in all His glory, perfectly prepared for an eternity of oneness with Him.

the believers around us are
 precious seeds that
You Yourself have planted.
Help us to
water and
nurture them
that they might be
abundantly fruitful in You.

Hymn: How Precious Are Your People

The People of the Living God

A reflection on Revelation 7:9-17,
the vision of the heavenly multitude

We are the people of the Living God.

rejected, and
sharing the suffering of our crucified Lord,
we are the people of the Living God.

Human but holy,
flawed but forgiven,
immature but growing daily in Christ,
we are the people of the Living God.

sanctified, and
sealed as His very own,
we are the people of the Living God.

We are His Body,
His temple,
His treasured possession,
His precious children.

And soon, we will be His
stunningly beautiful Bride,
aglow with the perfection of our Beloved.

We are the people of the Living God.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Chosen in Jesus
Printed Music & Lyrics

from Prepare Yourself for Worship


Father, when I come to Your house to worship,
I never come alone.
I come as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, all of us
redeemed by His blood and
united by His Spirit.
I come as part of the universal People of God
spanning all ages and nations.

Together, we come as Your temple,
Your holy dwelling place.
You are building us as a living, breathing, eternal home for Yourself,
exuding, and
incarnating Your magnificence.

Together, we are the Body of Christ.
He is our Head.
We are His hands and feet,
privileged and empowered to act out
His boundless love here on earth.

Together, we are the Bride of Christ,
devoted to Him alone
body, mind, and spirit.
He has set us apart for Himself, and
our destiny is an eternity of joyful oneness with Him.

Father, when I come to You in worship,
I come together with all Your people,
in Your Spirit,
through Your Holy Son. 

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Have Come, God’s Living Temple
Printed Music & Lyrics


1 Corinthians 12

Father, in the Church,
in Your Body,
we flinch at our diversity.
How often we wish that others weren’t so painfully different than us!
If only “they” were as enlightened as we are!

But You remind us that diversity is a blessing,
a good and perfect gift
from You, our all-wise, all-loving Father.
How could we function as a Body without
tough bones,
angular elbows,
stretchy tendons, and
sensitive nerve cells?
Diversity enables us to
be who we need to be as a whole.
Diversity is given to
nurture our unity,
not destroy it.
We need each other!
We need our differences!

In the Body of Christ there is no place for
partisanship or
self-centered pride.
Individually, each of us is
small and
Only together,
only in our
ever-challenging variety
are we the Body of the glorious, universal Christ.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: One in Jesus
Printed Music & Lyrics

One Body

We were all baptized into one body. (1 Corinthians 12:13, NASB) 

Lord Jesus, when I become one with You,
I become one with every other believer.
I come into one Body with them.
When I first answered Your call,
that’s what happened.
When I answer Your call and surrender to Your will now,
that’s what happens.
I become one member of Your Body,
with all its many members.

I get so focused on my individual life.
I forget that in reality
I’m one part of a grand picture,
a panorama that extends
throughout recorded history and
I’m one part of Your own family,
of Your precious people.

Jesus, teach me to think that way.
Teach me to pray that way.
Teach me to work that way.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: We Have Come, God’s Living Temple
Printed Music & Lyrics

One Part of the Whole

We sometimes think that if we could only work alone, free from dependence on others, we would function better. But Ephesians 4:1-16 teaches that God intentionally made each of us dependent on others and others dependent on us. He made each of us only one member of the Body – a finger dependent on the hand, an eye dependent on the brain. He made us different and specific, not to divide us, but to draw us together. He made us partial so that we would learn to work together. Each of us is only one part of the whole, only one member of the glorious Body of the holy, eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Our supply-and-demand economy prods us to “broaden our market,” to generalize our work to appeal to a greater number of people. Even in Kingdom work the Spirit sometimes stretches us beyond our comfortable limits in order to make us more useful in Christ’s work. But remember that He has intentionally made each of us partial, each of us a role player, each of us only a small piece of the overall picture.

So in God’s work, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be yourself. Be the best possible version of the unique person Almighty God is creating you to be. Others depend on your unique gifts, honed by the education, the experiences, and yes, the scars, that God is using to make you who you are.

Let me emphasize again: there is no substitute for the Spirit’s guidance. At times He will stretch you. At times He will keep you small and focused. But in the end, you will be only one piece of the whole, one specific member of the Body. Be content there. There is a hole you need to fill. There is a role that you need to play in an eternal purpose that is far grander than you can imagine.

The Ultimate Fulfillment of God with Us

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Ephesians 4:11-16; 5:25-27

What a wonderful gift is God’s Holy Spirit! But He is only a down-payment on the full gift of God’s presence.

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV)

God’s people are to be the Body of Christ. When God with us is completely fulfilled, our relationship with Him will be as close and interrelated as the head and the body.

Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16, NIV)

God’s people are to be the holy temple of God. We are to be His home, His dwelling place.

You are…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22, NIV) 

God’s people are to be His holy Bride.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2, NIV)

We are to be God’s holy temple, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ. These three images are intended to suggest one grand reality. We will be united with God in love, intimacy, and unbroken oneness. We will share in Him together, fully and forever.

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3, NIV)

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Imagine Your Creator’s Breath
Printed Music & Lyrics

Sing as Members of the Body of Christ

This is the 13th in a series of Friday posts on congregational song.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6, NIV)

When we sing hymns, we sing as members of the Body of Christ. As we receive God’s Word, as we respond in faith, as we praise our Eternal Father in song, we join with all members of Christ’s Body, stretching out through all places and all times. If we miss that unity, we miss one of the greatest blessings of living in Christ.

In hymn singing, let’s treasure the past. Cherish the witness of those who have gone before and now encourage us from that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

Let’s build to last. When future generations sift through what we’ve left behind, may they find hymns they want to keep—hymns that still express their faith and praise, hymns that transcend changes of style.

While we’re reaching out to those behind us and before us in the Body, let’s reach out to those around us now. In our hymn singing, let’s make the effort to include our varied brothers and sisters in Christ. With the mixture of ages and preferences in most of our congregations, that won’t be automatic. But Christian love demands it and will richly reward our efforts.

In the Friday blogs that follow, we’ll be looking more closely at each of these important ideas.