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I’ve been humming a tune this week that first caught my ear thirty years ago. That’s what happens when you see and savor a work of the Spirit, and last weekend I saw and savored a sample of what Christian artist Twila Paris wonderfully captured in song:

“How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom with his light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live
How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful
Is the body of Christ” [1]

What brought me joy? Seeing my Love & Truth Counseling Ministry Team and other volunteers working together to bring last weekend’s “Caring for One Another” conference to fruition:

  • Kate Davies and Corissa Veurink decorating our venue
  • Melinda LaCount printing our materials 
  • Susan Nelson, Harlan Hoekstra, and Susan Vanderwey greeting at the front door
  • Angie Glass, Elizabeth Marsiglia, and Allison Veurink supplying nametags and notebooks at the registration table
  • Kim Roberts and Cindy Norfleet filling orders at the book table
  • Josh and Amanda Van Dyke, BettyAnn Devries, and Claire Vanderwey preparing and serving delicious food
  • Joanne Van Dyke and Don McCrory playing the piano
  • Mike Veurink, Steven LaCount, and Bani Li running the audio and video
  • Bryan Tucker leading the set-up and take-down, with help from Sawyer, Campbell, Grace, and Cullen Wiersma as well as Michael and Jenna Veurink
  • Nikki Veurink serving tirelessly at my right hand from start to finish, whose gifts kept us organized, and whose zeal kept me encouraged

What a beautiful sight to behold! Humble hearts, radiant smiles, many tasks, one mission. How do we make proper sense of this collective effort? By looking through the eyeglasses of Scripture, of course.

Have you noticed how the Apostle Paul repeatedly references multiple associates—“fellow workers” and “ministers”—with whom he serves. As Colin Marshall and Tony Payne observe, “Up to 100 names are associated with Paul in the New Testament, of which around 36 could be considered close partners and fellow laborers.” [2] For example, there are Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3), Apollos (1 Cor 3:5), Tychichus (Eph 6:21), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25), Epaphras (Col 1:7), and Timothy (1 Thess 3:2), to name just a few. In a word, Paul carried out his ministry within the context of a team.

But Paul never did things willy-nilly. No, Paul’s “teamwork” methodology was the practical outworking of his “body-member” ecclesiology. That is, he repeatedly regards the church as one “body” of Christ comprised of many and diverse “members” of Christ, each being uniquely endowed by the Holy Spirit with grace to be exercised for the mutual upbuilding of the body (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:12-28; cf. Eph 4:4-16).

For example, behold the beauty of the “body of Christ” as revealed in Romans 12:3-5. Here, Paul issues a call to humility, urging each Christian “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.” Paul’s concern is to preserve the unity of the church. He knows that sin, left unchecked, generates a divisive, self-inflating view of oneself, so he calls each of us to view ourselves from God’s perspective. The indicative that grounds Paul’s imperative is twofold. Christians should think of themselves with “sober judgment,” first, because God has assigned each a “measure of faith’ (v. 3), and second, because God has designed all to be “the body of Christ.” Paul reasons, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (vv. 4-5).

The comparison is packed with punch. By highlighting these principles of unity (“one body”), plurality (“many members”), and diversity (“gifts that differ”), Paul would have us take in and live out two important truths. One, within the “body of Christ” there is the necessity of interdependence, meaning, the health of the church requires the functioning of each of its members. Two, within the “body of Christ” there is the “community of possession” [3], meaning, each member of the church shares in the gifts of the other members. Get the idea? We must view our different, God-given gifts not as an opportunity to compete and prove ourselves better than the other from pride, but as an opportunity to complete and serve one another from love.

No wonder I couldn’t stop humming that tune with joy. In those members of Harvest listed above I saw Paul’s rich theology of the church translate into such beautiful practice—and many of you did, too. Because of their Spirit-enabled service, last weekend’s “Caring for One Another” conference was a true blessing. So, the next time you see these members of our body, please join me in thanking them for a job well done.

Gratefully in Christ,

Pastor Greg

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[1] Twila Paris, “How Beautiful.” Produced by Brown Bannister, Star Song Records, 1990.

[2] Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine (Kingsford, New South Wales: Matthias Media, 2009), 112.

1 Comment

"... not ... to compete and prove ... but ... to complete and serve" ~ I love that! ♥

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